David Lintern finds the Salewa Alpine-Tec lacking a rubber grip and the necessary length to offer walking assistance.
The Salewa Alpine-Tec was the most mountaineering orientated axe in this selection. At 50cm long (or is that short?) it was an excellent length for a technical, steep terrain tool, but lacked the necessary length to be much use as a walking assistant. The shaft is simple and lacks a rubber grip, with the curve beginning quite low down. The included pommel did a good job of providing security in the hand, but the low curve meant that it was prevented from travelling more than halfway up the shaft. Consequently, a good plunge was hard to find!
- Rating: 3/5
- Cost: £115
- Weight: 369g (50cm)
- Pros: very sharp pick, smaller dimensions useful on steeper ground
- Cons: less useful in walking mode, carbide spike insecure
Materials: Carbon Steel pick, Aluminum shaft, carbide spike | Technical rating: B (type 1) | Grip: none | Leash or Pommel: adjustable pommel | Lengths available: 50, 58cm
The Salewa Alpine-Tec was the sharpest tool in this selection box of ice axes, by a long way. The point and teeth cut effortlessly, and that plus the short shaft length meant this tool really shone when used to dagger uphill or cut into snow or ice above the head. The adze is nicely curved but quite shallow, so less effective than others here for cutting steps or ledges.
The spike here is much less effective – it’s a walking pole style carbide tip screwed into a plastic fixture. This has an advantage in that it can be easily replaced, but the plastic will deteriorate quickly on Scottish mixed ground and the carbide tip just isn’t aggressive enough to find decent purchase on ice. Overall, the Salewa Alpine-Tec felt very insecure as a walking assist tool.
Compare the Salewa Alpine-Tec with other models in our buyer’s guide to the best ice axes.
David is 5 foot 8’’, medium build but probably could have better upper body strength (these things are relevant to testing winter metalwork). He tested these axes while hillwalking and on easier graded mountaineering routes during the winter of 2022/3, from Ben Wyvis to Creag Meagaidh. He was often in the Cairngorms with two (or more!) of the review samples to allow comparison of weight, balance and performance, side by side. All axes were weighed on David’s digital scales.