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ProView – Grivel North Machine Ice Tool

Grivel North Machine Ice Tool

Product Description: The North Machine Carbon is a lightweight technical tool designed to fit the most ambitious alpinist. Made of aerospace composite with a finely tuned Ice Plus Blade its designed to climb the north faces where conditions of ice and mixed terrain are likely to be found. The North Machine's Carbon Composite G-Bone shaft offers no compromise over quality allowing greater strength and rigidity. This is made possible by the special reinforcement and by the orientation of the carbon fibres. The North Machine is delivered with the Ice Plus Blade with a hammer or adz option, or with the Ice Blade but without hammer or adz option.

Price: MSRP $289.95

  • Quality
    (5)
  • Features
    (4)
  • Durability
    (5)

Summary

If you want a bomber all around ice tool that can serve you well cragging at the ice park as well as climbing mixed routes high in the alpine, this is the tool for you.  Its low weight makes it a dream for long approaches to routes in the backcountry and allows you to fight off the pump you get from swinging heavy tools repeatedly.  I would give these tools a 4.5/5. The only reason it didn’t get a full five is the lack of a spike on the end of the shaft for plunging.

Overall
4.7

Pros

  • Extremely durable
  • Ergonomic design
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • No spike on the end of the shaft
  • No secondary hand placement

grivel-north-machine-ice-review-dirtbagdreams.com

grivel-north-machine-ice-review-dirtbagdreams.com

Performance

These tools are equally at home on moderate to steep ice as they are on mixed or dry routes.  I have climbed for two seasons (200+ routes) with these tools and have been impressed with their performance each and every time. I have used these ice tools on difficult climbs anywhere from WI2-WI6. The terrain was split between backcountry ice and ice in the Ouray and Lake City ice parks. They have also functioned very well on mixed routes ranging from M2-M8. These mixed climbs have been anything from alpine mixed routes in Rocky Mountain National Park all the way to overhung bolted routes in Vail, Colorado. The North Machines have accompanied me on steep couloir climbs in the Colorado Rockies. There is really nothing involving snow, rock, or ice that these tools can’t handle. They are made of aerospace carbon composite which allows them to be incredibly lightweight and brutally strong.  These features allow me to accelerate the tool head with just a flick of the wrist to get a confident strike.

grivel-north-machine-ice-review-dirtbagdreams.com

grivel-north-machine-ice-review-dirtbagdreams.com

Look/Style

I have had friends call them the “Ferrari” of ice tools which should speak for itself.  The shafts have the quintessential carbon fiber look with a yellow stripe down the spine.  They are all around a very clean and modern looking ice tool.

grivel-north-machine-ice-review-dirtbagdreams.com

grivel-north-machine-ice-review-dirtbagdreams.com

Features

The beauty of the North Machines is in their simplicity. They have the features you need to climb alpine routes and nothing else to get in the way.  The aerospace carbon composite shafts are light and tough with a T-rating. The shafts are not aggressive compared to other tools on the market and are relatively straight shafted with a very ergonomic curve for your hand. Grivel’s base model of the North Machine has no attachment, but they offer the options of adding either an adze or hammer to the tool.  These tools are equipped with Grivels “Ice” hot forged steel picks that are razor sharp. The steel is very hard which leads to less time spent filing your picks.

grivel-north-machine-ice-review-dirtbagdreams.com

grivel-north-machine-ice-review-dirtbagdreams.com

Weight/Packability

Coming in just shy of one pound, four ounces apiece, nothing else on the market compares to the Grivel North Machines weight. At just 47 cm in length, they cinch down well without having sharp edges sticking out past the margins of your climbing pack.

grivel-north-machine-ice-review-dirtbagdreams.com

Durability/Construction

So far after two seasons of sheer abuse, the only damage you can see is some scuff marks to the paint along the shaft of the tools.  Thanks to the hardened steel picks, I have been able to easily maintain the points with a simple file from the local hardware store.

grivel-north-machine-ice-review-dirtbagdreams.com

grivel-north-machine-ice-review-dirtbagdreams.com

Room for Improvement

The downsides that I have experienced with these tools are the fact that they don’t have a secondary hand placement and the bottom of the tool has a carbide point like a trekking pole rather than a spike.  Without the secondary handhold, it is difficult to go hand over hand on the same tool to reach high placements with the other tool.  I have usually found this to be a problem with aggressive, mixed, or overhung terrain.  The carbide point isn’t the end of the world, but for plunging the tool into hard pack snow in couloirs or between pitches on a route it would be nicer to have a true spike to bite better.

grivel-north-machine-ice-review-dirtbagdreams.com

The Final Word

If you want a bomber all around ice tool that can serve you well cragging at the ice park as well as climbing mixed routes high in the alpine, this is the tool for you.  Its low weight makes it a dream for long approaches to routes in the backcountry and allows you to fight off the pump you get from swinging heavy tools repeatedly.  I would give these tools a 4.5/5. The only reason it didn’t get a full five is the lack of a spike on the end of the shaft for plunging.

grivel-north-machine-ice-review-dirtbagdreams.com

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Zach is an aspiring alpinist, ski mountaineer, climber, and photographer. He is a Wilderness First Responder and frequently volunteers with the Colorado Mountain Club to help train future mountaineers. Zach works part-time as a marine biologist in Alaska and a wildlife biologist here in Colorado. You can catch him climbing around Golden where he lives today. 

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