Gearbox: 2024 Spring Ski Mountaineering Collection

Petzl Sirocco

The Sirocco combines EN 12492 (the international standard climbing helmets certification) with Petzl’s own Top and Side Impact, creating a CE Ski Touring certification. This means the Sirocco protects against both rocks falling from above and side impacts that come with ski crashes. “If you’re a serious ski mountaineer worried about weight, this is the helmet you should buy,” said a tester who has both climbed and skied in the Sirocco. It clocks in at 160 grams and uses a webbing inner harness that fits comfortably over a beanie, which made our tester forget she had a helmet on. It has headlamp and goggle attachments, but, per our tester, “You’re better off with sunglasses or wearing the goggles under the helmet.”

Petzl Ride Ice Axe

“I’ve been in a few situations when I wish I’d strapped an ice axe to my pack,” a tester said. At just 250 grams and 45 centimeters long, this small axe is a no-brainer. It’s ideal for steep bootpacks and the occasional low-angle ice flow, though our tester suggests adding the Trigrest hand rest ($20) if you’re planning to swing the pick above your head. Both the aluminum shaft and the pick are B-rated, meaning they can be used to build improvised snow anchors. But the light weight is achieved by cutting features. “The spike is tiny, you can’t swap the pick out when it wears out, and there’s no way to switch the adze for a hammer if you’re placing pitons,” our tester explained. “If you can live with that, this is the ice axe you need.”

Black Diamond Equipment Neve Pro

“These fold faster than I would playing poker against Annie Duke,” our tester said. Using a pliable center cable (not a steel strap) for adjustment, the Neve Pro tacos, taking up far less room in a pack than a standard pair of crampons. The cable’s quick-lock mechanism allows tool-free adjustments, with a small dial on the heel bail lock for microtensioning, though our tester found nailing the perfect tightness difficult. Still, these 13.9-ounce, aluminum, 10-point automatic crampons, with their Wide Toe Bail, centered well on the welt of his ski boots and stayed relatively firmly in place. “They don’t feel quite as secure as a beefier pair of crampons, so I wouldn’t use them for alpine or mixed climbing,” he said. “But they’re perfect for ski mountaineering and glacier travel.”

Raide LF 40L

“Simple, yet complete,” said our tester of this primarily Dyneema pack, which features a waterproof rolltop within a nylon ripstop cinch top. She found the cavity between the two tops “dynamic, perfect for a rope, shed layers, crampons.” Unroll the rolltop for more space, and a coil can still be slung over the top. Our tester lauded the details: the dual ice axe setup, built-in helmet carry, skin sleeve, unzippable back panel, hip loop and pocket, and easy ski carries. Plus, it’s light: 1,090 grams and per Raide, strippable to 900. Her only critique was that the avy tools were not fully separated from the main compartment, which allowed moisture to travel. Still, she called the pack “intuitive,” adding, “designed for efficient, do-it-all epics.” 

Blue Ice Choucas Light

“Holds my weight but can’t weigh me down!” exclaimed our tester who was impressed by the Choucas Light’s featherweight (a claimed 89 grams, size medium). Plus, it “packs down to roughly fist size in its stuff sack.” When it was time to get into the durable, low friction webbing she found the leg loops, which open and close via spacegrade aluminum toggles slipping into nylon loops, “incredibly convenient” with skis, crampons and boots in the mix. Dual gear loops (one on each hip) and ice screw slots (one on each leg) secured various climbing equipment, while dual belay loops save weight and ensure secure rope attachment. “Comfortable to move in all day,” she said, “but don’t plan to hang around,” she added, acknowledging that the unpadded mesh digs in under full weight.

These reviews were originally published in Issue No. 157. To read more, pick up a copy, or subscribe to read our gear reviews when they’re first published in print.

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