Raven Pro


Raven Pro
Page Type Gear Review
Object Title Raven Pro
Manufacturer Black Diamond
Page By Martin Cash
Page Type Jun 26, 2003 / Jan 17, 2007
Object ID 751
Hits 12374
The Raven Pro Ice Axe is the lightest, full-service piolet available, period. It has a super clean and simple design for the high-end user who refuses to sacrifice performance for less weight. The sleek and ergonomic head provides a sure grip and all day comfort—this also makes for a fast, smooth hand rotation when going into self-arrest. Boot-axe belays are a snap too. The classically curved adze blasts ice, chops steps, and clears snow quickly and easily. Not just for the climber, the Raven Pro is a ski/snowboard-mountaineer’s dream as well. At 11 ounces, you may think you forgot to bring it with you. Durable 7075-T6 Aluminum shaft, 17-4 investment cast stainless steel head and spike.

Bottom Line: If you have an axe to grind when it comes to weight, the Raven Pro is for you—light ‘n’ fast.



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Martin Cash - Jun 26, 2003 11:04 am - Voted 5/5

Untitled Review
For non-technical routes where you just want a self belay and something that will self arrest, look no further than the Raven Pro. It is one of lightest axes made at a mere 11oz. It self belays, boot axe belays, and self arrests just as well as a heavy axe. An excellent tool for the arsenal of the fast and light climber.

It does not come with a leash, so be prepared to get the BD leash, or make your own basic one. I climbed a short section of vertical water-ice on Mount Hood with this thing, and it worked great. The tip does not come sharpened, so you must file it down if you want to use it like this. The teeth also need to be filed so they release properly, if you are going to use this with technical terrain.

Bottom line: An axe that performs well and is superlightweight. Hard to beat.

Pufflebrush - Jul 5, 2003 5:56 pm - Voted 5/5

Untitled Review
This is a great lightweight Axe. The Raven Pro's head is easy to gold on and is very comfortable. Self arrests as well as any other axe. If you are planning on using the axe for anything more than general glacier travel I would sharpen the teeth.

This axe is probably not as durable as other axes, but hey look at the weight, and mine has still looks new after being used 6 times. A great "just in case" tool, or an excellent backup tool. Did I mention the light weight.

John - Jul 8, 2003 10:46 am - Voted 5/5

Untitled Review
This is a great, ultra-light, and comfortable glacier-travel axe when every gram counts. While I originally got mine for Orizaba and backcountry ski trips, it's quickly become my favorite non-technical ice axe (B-rated). The wasp-waist does wonders for hand comfort. I now use a BD Slider leash which I think is a great improvement over the homemade sling leash I used for a long time. One thing to note is that the head and spike are attached with (a resin?) glue rather than rivets. BD tests have shown that this new method is stronger than the rivets they previously used on say the BD Alpamayo and BD ArcLight.

Since this is a B-rated axe, using this for technical ice is at your own risk and not avised by BD. Still, it's hard not to make comparisons with the Grivel Air Tech Racing, another B-rated axe, that has been used for waterfall ice. I used my Raven Pro on some of the hardest water ice imaginable (ice bouldering) and it's lightweight head caused the pick to bounce right off the ice. I was able to make it up the small flow but it took a lot of effort, like three swings to get each placement. Going up the same flow moments later with a pair of CM Quark Ergo's resulted in no problems.

I haven't had to self-arrest with the Raven Pro yet but I've wondered how effective the lightweight would be on alpine ice. I've successfully self-arrested a 200+ foot slide on 40° alpine ice with my 800+ gram BD Alpamayo ice axe. Once I recovered my axe, it took three tries before I got the pick to stick into the ice so I'm not sure I'd be as comfortable with something as light-weight as the Raven Pro. I have since picked up a 60cm Grivel Jorasses T-rated axe for these situations but have yet to use it.

The other thing about the Raven Pro is that the spike looks a little weak. I'm not sure how it would stand up to sharpening but perhaps if it needs sharpening, it's time to get a new one.

Five stars as a purpose-built light-weight glacier-travel axe. As for using it for other purposes, YMMV.

Furd Burful - Apr 6, 2004 1:30 am - Voted 5/5

Untitled Review
Loved this ice axe!!! Like A piece of fine jewerly in your hand. Super lite and super strong. Only complaint is the paint pealed one third of the way up the shaft, on the first use... Still highly recommended

josephgdawson - May 30, 2004 1:23 pm - Voted 4/5

Untitled Review
I bought this ice ax on the weight alone. My only complaint about it is that the adze is a little bit small and it has a hole cut out of it. This made digging T-Trenches a little tough because a good deal of the snow goes right through the hole in the adze when you are pulling the ax through the trench to deepen it and stays in the trench. Just means a little more work. Im thinking next time I go out I will wrap a piece of duct tape around the adze to cover the hole. BD, you hear me?

On a positive note, my ax did weigh about 3 times less than some old ax my partner had. I found this rather amusing.

Moni - Jul 7, 2004 4:27 pm - Voted 5/5

Untitled Review
Combined with the Camp XLC 390 crampons, which weigh under 1 lbs per pair, you have no excuse not to have a decent set of lightweight equipment to deal with the snow and glacier crossings found on alpine routes and in the early climbing season approaches.

I tried other, lighter weight axes, but this one just feels right in the hand. Played around with it doing belays and self-arrests,as well as step cutting and I do not feel like I am compromising anything, just because it is light.

Rinat Shagisultanov - Jul 20, 2004 12:51 pm - Voted 5/5

Untitled Review
Extremely light and versatile ice axe. I had the BD ArcLight axe for 3 years and thought it is a good reliable tool, Raven Pro beats it by all parameters. My wife is using the regualr Raven axe, but I am usually carrying more gear, so decided to go with the lighter one for a some extra money.

Fred Spicker - Jul 20, 2004 9:55 pm - Voted 5/5

Untitled Review
Decided to treat myself to an ultralight axe for general use and made the rounds of all the local climbing shops checking them out. The Raven Pro is without a doubt the most comfortable in the hand of all the light axes. I have used it extensively on three trips now and have been very pleased with its performance - even did a "team arrest" with no problems. The balance of the axe is so nice that the light weight does not have any significant effect on its pick setting or step cutting qualities.

Ardvark - Jan 6, 2005 11:15 am - Voted 5/5

Untitled Review
Light weight, yet highly functional. Head is easy on the palm and simple to insulate. Workmanship is beautiful. This is simply the best ax you can buy for straight ahead mountaineering.

Erik Beeler - Nov 17, 2005 10:58 am - Voted 5/5

Untitled Review
While this ultra light weight is no longer the lightest non-technical axe it still is a great buy. BD has come out with a new Raven Pro (Ultra?) that is lighter but it has got to cost more and this bad boy already cost a lot.

I love this axe. I bought it for its light weight primarily but have come to love the head design. I am not worried about its light weight being unable to arrest a slide as a climbers body weight supplies the stopping force not the axe. The light weight does make it bounce around on hard ice so don't plan on hardcore ice routes with this one.

I would buy it again if I need a new axe. Of course I will also buy the new king of the light weights by BD.

The shaft has taken some dings over time and the paint probably could be more durable but it has not affected the over all use of the axe.

old5ten - Nov 22, 2005 2:40 am - Voted 1/5

Untitled Review
Spike does not penetrate well on harder snow and ice. One could say that it was the conditions that we experienced, but the Gazelle used a Charlet Moser Pulsar Evolution with great success, when my Raven Pro slid all over the place. The weight saving was definitely not worth the insecurity.

bledl - Feb 8, 2006 12:49 pm - Voted 4/5

Untitled Review
really like this axe. i use it for moderate snow/glacier tours & also worked some steeper parts up with it. its the lightest axe i ever had (ok, most of the other ones were kind of antique used tools) & you nearly dont feel it on your pack. wouldnt use it for steeper stuff/ice climbing, as it doesnt penetrate hard snow/ice well (the head is very lightweight, too). overall a great tool for moderate classical routes.

montana boy - Feb 10, 2006 10:01 pm - Voted 5/5

Untitled Review
Great axe. Well designed, comfortable to travel with. It performs perfectly in the tasks it was designed for. An awsome ultralight mountain axe. Obviously its not great on hard ice, but it does what I ask it to. Smooth self arrest. Would buy again.

Dan the Jones - Jan 25, 2007 6:16 pm - Voted 5/5

Used my Raven Pro in serious ice/hard snow conditions and found it to be a life saver. It is light yet solid, and when really striking anything hard, rock/ice, the shaft eats up the vibrations extremely well. The adze is ideal for carving out pigeon holes, and the pick is great for all types of self arresting.

Woodie Hopper - Jan 25, 2007 7:10 pm - Voted 4/5

Hey Nice Axe!
Extreme light weight makes this axe great for high-altitude glacier travel, but not so good for hard ice.

Dustiano - Jan 26, 2007 4:43 pm - Voted 4/5

Good Value!
Lightweight, strong, AND CHEAP!

Dean - Jan 28, 2007 3:02 pm - Voted 5/5

Upgraded to this one
I had the standard Raven until last summer when I stupidly left it on a rock on Mt. Peale in Utah's La Sals. I had been descending a snow gully where I had been using the Raven when I put it down to get my pack re-organized. Then I walked away and forgot it wasn't on my pack, dumb, really dumb. Well, when I went to buy a new one, I picked up the Raven Pro and was really impressed by the quality and the lighter weight. I'll give it a good workout on some peaks this summer and report back on my final opinion.

Timothy Pearl - Feb 7, 2007 10:18 pm - Hasn't voted

Need a straight axe? Get one.
Great grip. Great durability. Functionally perfect. Pretty.

Bill Reed - Feb 8, 2007 10:15 pm - Voted 5/5

It's my 1st and only
Bought it cause it was lighter than most. Used it a couple times so far and have been pleased with it. A little concerned that the spike and adze are smaller than those on the standard Raven, but I guess that's part of the reason it's so light.

Adamus - Oct 20, 2007 4:51 am - Voted 4/5

Nice Axe
A good all round axe. It's very light. The pick and adze are generally sharp enough for summer glacier travel. Definitely not for steep, technical ice though. My only real complaint is that the stake isn't very pointy, which makes self-belaying difficult if it's very icy.

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