Lucy Wallace tests the Black Diamond Raven with Grip on the hill as part of her review of the best walking axes for 2021.

The Black Diamond Raven with Grip is a handsome-looking ice axe with a straight shaft and elegantly shaped and comfortable head, thanks to the cutaway sections for the fingers and thumb.

The stainless steel pick and adze look the part, but I would say that the pick on the Raven is the least aggressive of the tools I tested, with a subtle curve, nine gently angled teeth plus a flat top edge. This correlates with my findings when I tested it, with good performance on soft snow but less good on steeper, firmer snow or turfy rock.

The perfectly straight shaft is very good for plunging into snow, helped by a pleasingly pointy spike at the end. It’s trapezoidal in cross section, for strength and ease of grasping. The dual density ribbed rubber handle provides additional grip near the base.

The Black Diamond Raven with Grip comes with a simple slider leash that attaches to a hole between the head and the shaft, keeping it well out of the way of chopping and cutting. The leash adds value to what is already a beautiful but relatively inexpensive ice axe. It’s a classic tool, but others handle steeper terrain better.

Read more: 6 of the best walking axes reviewed