junior min kim on his first ice climb with the CAMP toolsAlthough the temperature is only just starting in sunny Colorado Springs, winter has come to many parts of the state. From the slopes of A-Basin to the more local summit of Pikes Peak, CC students are already pulling on their snow-pants, digging out their mittens, and heading into the cold. However, a lesser-known fact is that the ice is also here, and it looks like it’s going to be a good year.

On Saturday, I was in shorts and a tank top, soaking up the sun on the limestone cliffs of Shelf Road. That evening, I pulled out the soft-shell pants, tracked down my ice screws, and scrambled to find my thermos for the next day; it was ice-climbing time.

The C.A.M.P All Mountain-X Ice Tools are a great, all-around aid. Between wandering up snow gullies and sending WI 4-5 ice flows, the All Mountain-X tools do it all. Suitable for all levels of climbers, the tool is lightweight, but still balanced. Its design, with a shaft curve and relatively cheap price [about $220 per tool, full retail], make them a stellar set of tools.

There are several features that stand out. One highlight is the overall lightness of the tools. Matt Zia, senior, a new ice climber, accompanied me to Lincoln Falls, near Fairplay. He commented on the lightness on the tools, but also how they still retained a good balance for an easy swing.

This resilience is due to a fantastic combination of weight and an aggressive shaft curve. Some tools can feel too light and almost “flimsy,” while others can be too heavy and not only be exhausting to swing after a while, but also act more like a hammer, bashing away the ice, rather than biting into it.

Speaking of bite, the hot-forged picks are wickedly sharp right out of the box. When these tools were brand new, I found myself taking more time trying to wiggle the tool out of the ice than trying to place it. After months of mixed climbs and drytooling sessions at CityRock, they have retained their factory edge surprisingly well.

In addition, they have interchangeable grips—sold separately, of course—which allow you to tailor the tools to your needs. The grip that the tools come with is called the “X-Ice,” and is a relatively standard ice tool grip. It has great pinky protection and an axe spike that allows you to plunge the tool into the snow and use it like a mountaineering or walking axe when traversing snowfields or hiking up a snowy approach.

The C.A.M.P All Mountain-Xs are fantastic, all-around tools. They are aggressive enough for crushers on both the WI scale and the M scale as well as on steep snow, but also are  a relatively inexpensive tool for the stoked beginner as well as intermediate ice climber.

Jamie Sarafan, Staff Writer

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