Page Type Gear Review
Object Title Cobra
Manufacturer Black Diamond
Page By JScoles
Page Type Mar 11, 2002 / Mar 11, 2002
Object ID 162
Hits 6702
Lightweight carbon technology with a twist! The long axis of the shaft’s oval cross section flows from front to back at the grip, and side to side towards the head, to maximize clearance. The durable steel head puts additional weight up high, adding punch to your swing. Hourglass handle improves grip.
  • Twist in the shaft allows for maximum clearance over bulges and around columns.
  • Tool head takes components via simple screw-and-groove system that’s field-maintainable.
  • Rubber coating at the bottom improves grip.
  • Carbon-fibre shaft dampens vibration.
  • Steel spike features a carabiner hole.
  • Cobra pick has added teeth under head.
  • Leash not included.



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JScoles - Mar 20, 2002 11:32 am - Voted 5/5

Untitled Review
I had the opportunity to play with these super high tech tools a few weekends ago when the pimply-faced kid at the rental counter mistook them for another pair and gladly rented them to me. Of course I could not resist abusing them short of taking a saw to the shaft to see what they were like in cross section. I imagine the manager of the store where I rented them had a few choice words for my young friend when I returned them on Monday morning.

Anyway I used them the entire weekend and really found them to be a joy to use. They are well balanced, very light but have enough weight in the right place to really stick well. The shaft bend I found to be just right for my swing, which meant that I didn’t have to whack the ice hard to get a good stick. They worked really well with wrist flicks and I found it was very easy to get accurate placement with them very quickly. The handgrips were nice but a little large for me especially when wearing gloves so I had to depend on the leash more than I normally do.

The long gentle curve works great for moving over bulges and has a lot of reach to it more than the truly bent shaft tools I have used. The Carbon fiber shaft really absorbs a lot of the shock of hitting hard ice and in turn this causes less fracturing and dinner plating and saves energy. It also makes a real cool deep tuuunnnnngg sound when nicely set.

In mixed climbing they seemed to work just as well as any other tool I have used. I did find the hammer to be a little too close to the shaft and it was hard to use it in large cracks as the shaft curve puts your arm at a funny angle. I also found the hammer to be quite small (one way to save weight) and I missed the mark the odd time or it slid off when I was driving a piton. This usually resulted in the collar receiving a good whack but BD seems to have foreseen this as the collar is reinforced and goes quite a ways down the shaft so all I did was scratch the paint on the collar.

Also when applying torque to the shaft to wedge the pick or hammer in a crack gave me a freight as the shaft bends laterally quite a bit which gives the impression the shaft will break at any second. After a few tries this fear is over come (it was a rental after all so I suppose it would take longer to overcome this fear if I actually shelled out the 300$ for them).

All in all this is one great tool but I still have my doubts how long the Carbon Fiber shaft if going to last and just how much abuse it will take but so far I have not heard of any breaking.

One gripe is that they do not come with leash you think for that much coin they would through them in but no way they still want you to spend the 50 bucks for a good pair. I have actually seen guys with these tools use really poor leashes and IMHO it is something like putting wagon weels on a Porsche 911.

As an alpine short axe they are only good but then again that is not what they were designed for. They did not snow plunge very well I actually had it pop right out once because of the curved shaft went down and up again. They worked well for daggering and were comfortable in the hand and they have a nice spike at the base of the shaft.

The only problem I have with them is if you have small hands any benefit from their lightness is outweighed by the rather large grip.

Overall the Cobra is a superior ice tool, well worth the bucks if you do a lot of pure ice climbing, or are into competitions but if you are like me and do only a moderat amount of mixed and alpine climbing then it is hard to shell out the big bucks for such a purpose built tool.

Still I give them 5 stars

tymelero - Sep 28, 2002 7:18 pm - Voted 5/5

Untitled Review
When I purchased ice tools I wanted tools that would swing well, have a bent shaft for clearance, and a good pick design. I also will be using these tools for mostly alpine climbing vs. waterfall ice. I purchased Black Diamond Cobra's.

I swung several tools prior to my purchase and found the Cobra's fit my hand and had a natural swing. These tools felt like an extension of my arm during the end of my swing. This made them very easing to swing straight into the ice minimizing sideways swings and maximizing pick placement.

The bent shaft gives good clearance even on waterfall ice. I did find when the ice was lower angle that my knuckles would suffer. The Charlet Moser Quark’s clearance are much more forgiving. The knuckle protector on the Quarks is a nice feature that I wish the Cobra's had, although this might compromise a self belay function if these had to be used on steep snow which is a possibility in an alpine setting.

The pick design is one of the Cobra's best features. With a little touch up these picks give good purchase on many types of ice. Whether leading, top-roping, or bouldering I felt the Cobra's pick placement safe.

In summary I would give these tools an A for alpine use and an A- for waterfall ice. If you are strictly looking for a waterfall tool look to the Moser Quarks. I think they are a little better for strictly waterfall ice. Otherwise spend the money and purchase the Cobra's. You wont be sorry.

Beefrod - Mar 3, 2007 5:26 pm - Voted 5/5

Cobra review
I've spent quite a bit of time on other ice tools, so when i made a jump of faith, on the Black Diamond name, i was still a little skeptical about the carbon shafts of the Cobra tools. When my package arrived i was very pleased to see the same quality I've come to expect from Black Diamond. I use these tools for waterfall ice mostly with a little mix here and there. The Cobra's fit my hand very well and are comfortable for longer multi pitched climbs.

Coming from a metal shaft background, the Cobra's felt a little strange to me when they hit the ice. I quickly overcame my skepticism and began to trust the tools! They swing like a champ and stick like crazy. Together with the BD android leash these tools are a formidable foe to those bulges and long climbs. When i 'm doing shorter climbs i usually go leashless. I took a chance and ordered the BD Viper Fangs. They of course don't fit the cobras, but with a little modification with a file they clamp down great on the spike. The rubberized grip sticks to my gloves great and I'm never in any want of more traction.
The picks are, of course, amazing. THey stick very well right out of the box, but with very little modification they are spectacular.

If i had any grumbles at all it would be the size of the adze. Its big and scary. I've even thought about trimming it down a bit. Also knuckle clearance isn't the best; you just have to be conscience and careful.

The bottom line is: These are the best Waterfall ice tools I've ever used. They are comfortable and stick great! Don't shy away from the price tag or carbon shafts. They are well worth the money. I give them 5 stars!

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