A classic Welsh-made, T-rated ice axe

This review is part of our ice axes gear guide, and was first published in the February 2018 issue of The Great Outdoors.

If you’re thinking of undertaking some winter climbing as well as hillwalking the Cirque would be an excellent choice. It has a T rating and so is strong enough for belays and serious climbing. It’s also quite heavy – unnecessarily so for a pure walking axe. However for climbing the extra weight has advantages. It’s less tiring both for step cutting and for climbing with the pick as when you swing the axe the weight helps carry it forward. A heavier axe also feels more reassuring on very steep ground and hard snow than a light one too.

The pick, longer and more curved than on most walking axes, has sharp teeth underneath. The adze is wide for step-cutting. There’s an inset rubberised grip above the spike that is warmer and less slippery to hold than metal. The shaft is slightly curved, which makes sense for climbing. An adjustable leash with a padded hand loop is provided. The latter can be adjusted to take the thickest mitts.

The Welsh-made Cirque is a good compromise for hillwalking and classic mountaineering. It’s not too technical for the former but is strong enough for the latter.