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Anyone use the Cassin X-Dream Alpine Ice Tools in Alpine Terrain?


Original Post
Sherman Lam · · Pittsburgh, PA · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 0

I've read plenty of positive reviews regarding the performance of Cassin's X-Dream ice tools on steep ice and mixed terrain. However, no one really comments on the performance of the alpine version of these tools. I expect the steep ice climbing performance of the two versions to be nearly identical. I'm curious about the performance of the x-dream alpine tools in an alpine setting. Here are some questions to elaborate on my current thoughts:

1.) How well do these work in piolet canne position? I know they have a spike and the handle isn't ideally shaped for plunging. However, I hypothesize that on hard snow / ice, the spike is sufficient and on soft snow, anything will plunge. Has anyone tried using these tools in piolet canne position in the field enough to validate or nullify my hypothesis?

2.) Does the lack of an adze for this tool bother anyone? Possible applications include clearing away bad ice for screw placement or digging a trench for a deadman anchor. I have the equipment and skills to weld a mini adze onto the hammer of the ice pick. Is this a good or bad idea?

3.) Other thoughts?

I know that there are better tools suited for the alpine and ideally I own two pairs of tools (one for alpine, one for technical ice/mixed). However, I'm just getting my first pair of tools and want something that works well for technical ice (WI4 or greater) and alpine climbing. 

Kevin Mcbride · · Canmore AB · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 160

I got to play with a pair on an alpine day last year. For starters, I'm not an x-dream fan, I really tried to love them but I just can't. In the alpine I haven't found an offset handle tool that doesn't bother me on easy ice and snow, plunging just doesn't work that we'll in spooky conditions. Don't weld shit on your tools. 

Honestly I think you'll be better off with vipers, quarks, or x all mountains for your first tool. You'll be climbing lots easy ice (almost exclusively on TR as well) which agro tools aren't the best for, stacked grip tools also excel in alpine which sounds like you're really concerned about. If you plan on climbing lots of alpine, its best to have the right tool. Once you start climbing alot of mixed then buy something agro like the x dream. Personally, I think BD cobras are the best pure ice and alpine tools available, I know I'm going  catch some flack for that, but they are a great tool for any ice and mixed up to m6ish (for my weak ass at least).

Doug Hutchinson · · Seattle, WA · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 95

1. Xdreams absolutely suck for piolet canne postion. Besides the lack of spike and the huge handle, the head (without hammer) is awkard to handle/hold. On approaches I actually flip the tool upside down (pick head down into snow) and grasp the bottom of the grip. I know it sounds silly but it much more comfortable than the usual canne position. 

2. Adzes are like leashes - nobody uses them anymore.

3. What Kevin said. I use Cobras for alpine, and Xdreams for pure ice/mixed - when the approach isn't the crux. 

Michael Scott · · Salida, Colorado · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 0

I’ve used them on a couple of trips to Alaska and on a bunch of alpine in CO. I don’t usually worry too much about plunging them.  If you are climbing something technical enough to use them, you probably won’t do much plunging and you will likely have a picket if you need a snow anchor. I agree with the comment above and I go between holding the head/using the spike and holding them head down. Lack of adze can be a problem if chopping a bivy, but the picks work OK for chopping or if your partner has an adze you should be OK. Personally, I will probably bring my All-Mountains next time I go to AK, but that is because the ice can get so hard and I think the A-M picks penetrate hard ice better with less energy expended. YMMV

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480

 If we’re talking about the XDream Alpines, those DO have a spike and work great for canning. I see you’re from Pittsburgh so I assume you’re going to be doing NH alpine routes, pinnacle, Shoestring, Odell’s etc.. the XDreams design will be just fine. As Michael Scott said you’re not plunging much and you don’t need adze.

 Now my problem with XDream on alpine routes or hard ice. The picks don’t penetrate hard ice well. Even the weighted picks don’t give me confident sticks and when they do the picks are usually overdriven.. More energy wasted swinging harder and harder to clean.

 I would check out the Trango Raptors. I just got a pair and they work fantastic on hard brittle ice. The Raptors have a spike, plunge well and swing great. In fact I just did a NH grade 2 alpine route this morning with my Raptors. I was really impressed. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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