By Gary Ryan, AMGA Mountain Guide & Founder of the Guide Garage in Ouray, Colorado
Weight: 600+ grams
Price: $279.00 MSRP
“This Cassin X-Dream is the FERRARI of steep ice and mixed climbing”
This one tool represents a super-modular system for steep ice, mixed technical terrain and dry/sport tooling.
On the top end you have a series of interchangeable picks. My tested version came with the Mixte pick. Also available are Ice and Race (comp) picks.
All are T-rated, and I was very pleasantly surprised at how well the stock Mixte pick climbed ice. Each pick varies slightly in down angle, more relaxed for ice, and steeper angulation for Mixte and Race. They also vary the top edge and throat serrations on each pick to optimize the stability for the varying terrain.
On the other end, the bottom end, and going hand-in-hand with pick and terrain-choice adjustments, there is the patented ergonomic grip, also very custom adjustable for either Rock (Dry) or Ice.
The handle angle can easily be adjusted 15 degrees from Ice to Dry which makes a considerable difference to the swing and pump factor, in a positive way, when dialed in for the appropriate terrain.
Hand size is also addressed with a removable rubber gasket under the pinkie for larger hands, and a number of less-critical adjustments on the trigger finger portion of the grip can be dialed into hand size or even glove specific use. The hand grip and shape are some of the most impressive features for me as a user, hard to fall out or let go of these babies… it’s like a hand shake from Layton Kor… a very solid feeling. I would add that at its largest the grip is perfect for my large hands, with thinner style gloves.
The biggest of man-hands and warmer gloves might find it a little restricting. But with that said, I found a number of my female clients loved and could handle the grip well.
The X-Dream comes with an adjustable, or (in my case) removable, 3rd pommel higher up the shaft that is key for those few extra inches of reach on rock or dry ground. I found it to interfere with clearance on some of the more fluted or cauliflower ice, but it’s an awesome add-on none-the-less.
And finally a large window or clip-in point at the head proves useful when utilizing the tools in an anchor set up or more traditional alpine snow anchors.
Summary: As an ice climbing guide and instructor here in the mini mecca of Ouray I get to swing a lot of tools in my daily life… but the X-Dreams have become my go to choice machinery for anything, and everything, steep, be it rock or ice.
The X-Dream Ice Tool from Cassin will be available again on Outdoor Prolink Fall 2015 — please check back with us then!