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Cassin X-All Mountain Ice Tools
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By Crimp Junkie
From New Britain, CT
Oct 26, 2011
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The few reviews I have been able to find seem to indicate that this is a really great all around tool. The modular design of the head and handle seems pretty genius to me. However, I was hoping to get more input if I could from MP users who've used the Cassin X-All Mountain ice tools. Thanks!


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By Chris Wenker
From Santa Fe
Oct 26, 2011
Bandera

I just got a pair of X-All Mountains last month. (They were warranty replacements for my broken CAMP Awaxs -- Thanks, Silvertip Mountaineers!).
They've only been out twice so far, but I think they're better tools than the Awaxs; here's some initial reactions from a noob ice climber.

Pros:
-Modular heads will allow separate replacements of the picks/hammers/adzes, instead of having to buy the old Awax combined heads.
-Swappable grips look useful; at the very least, the grip that ships from the factory has an upper pinky shelf molded in, unlike the old Awax. And the plastic looks much more durable than those of the Awax.
-The clipping hole on the head easily accepts carabiners. Seems like a 'no-duh' kind of comment, but the geometry of the old Awax was weird and it was difficult to clip most 'biners through that hole.
-The factory-shipped lower pinky rest does not interfere with the clipping hole on the spike, which is way improved over the old aftermarket pinky rests on the Awax (which completely blocked the spike's hole).
-Picks are damn sharp and penetrate easily, but I was getting a fair amount of dinnerplating on hard dry AI. Also, they don't hold up to too much rock interference. (Could be operator error).
-Stellar clearance.

Cons:
-The swing is still taking me some getting used to, even after being familiar with the Awax swing. For me, it's taking somewhat more of a wrist flick than I'm used to, to get a solid stick on the first try. Some laps at Ouray might help me with that. YMMV.
-The junction where the head assembly is affixed to the shaft is still engineered the same way as the Awax -- with two fairly small-diameter rivets. That's the failure point of one of my old Awaxs, the rivets broke loose (probably from pounding pins) and the head got terminally wobbly. So I'm not yet convinced of the long-term burliness of these units.

Cash value = $0.02.


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By Crimp Junkie
From New Britain, CT
Oct 27, 2011
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That's some great information. Thanks Chris!


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By funkyicemonkey
From Colorado
Dec 2, 2011

Old post resurrected, but Ive been on these axes and felt they needed a better appraisal.

I have a set of these for mountains and on occasion my wife. They do climb very well and are an excellent all mountain design. However the pick design sticks appallingly and needs lots of work with a file, once its done its fine, but irritating. The biggest problem is how the grip attaches, its a single small bolt - teeny and scary. I am sure its fine as the bolt is tempered and thicker than the wall of the axes, but still it seems stupid. Ive epoxied mine. The swing is more of a flick on less than overhanging and direct on the steep stuff. It seems counter intuitive, but they feel better on mixed or more technical ground. All in all, the continuous curve is terrific in the hills and on hard alpine climbs but on cauliflower and pure ice it concedes to the Nomics which simply reach over obstacles better. I was out last night, and I trust them enough for a moonlight solo. The best thing about them is that they can be found very cheap. Ive even done an arrest with them, and it works - better than any other technical tool ive used. They are a true mountain tool.
A final thought: These are excellent axes, and I like mine. But when the rubber hits the road, its Nomics all the way, but that is personal choice.


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By Sunny-D
From SLC, Utah
Dec 3, 2011
Top of Jah-Man Sister Superior

These are great tools. I have had them out one on one with all my other tools for the past few days. If you get a chance climb one All mountain one other brand. they climb better then most the other tools out there including the top 2 BD and Petzl. I had 6 tools out today, only one of each kind. hands down the all mountain climbed better then all the other tools- we were climbing with a different brand in each hand for every pitch today to compare the different tools. the All Mountain took the day. We were climbing water ice 4-5. Just my two cents. As a side note I am just about ready to sell off my Nomics... not really that impressed. Not yet though so don't email asking for them... I am still giving them a chance. Look at the latest rock and ice in the Gear review you will see a nice review on the All Mountain.


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By funkyicemonkey
From Colorado
Dec 5, 2011

Sunny-D - Quite right, it is all personal feel for a tool that counts. Compared where we were 10-15 years ago where Ice Tool design fluctuated wildly, today its tough to find a dreadfull axe. These are definitly in the top few, I like mine a lot. The pick does need some filing though, and that small bolt that holds the handle on...


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By Gunkiemike
Dec 5, 2011

Exactly what sort of filing are you all doing to get the picks to release from the ice more easily? They are already beveled top and bottom edge, and the nose is WAY rounded. (These being the "tuning" steps given by Climbing magazine)


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By funkyicemonkey
From Colorado
Dec 6, 2011

The pick has a tendency to pivot and lock against the long front hooking tooth so I file a more conventional profile at the tip.This has also helped with wear, although it has shortened the pick a teeny bit. Across the top ridge I ensure that it is as sharp as possible.

The pick has an interesting coating that is wearing off, Im curious as to what it is? Any ideas?

One other thing worth mentioning - these axes do not flex nearly as much as my Nomics.

Warning: This matches MY swing, technique and way I remove the pick. And I am lazy.


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By Gunkiemike
Dec 6, 2011

I believe that coating is simply black paint. I sanded it off the sides of my Awax picks and they penetrate more easily. I also have shortened the "beak" of the tip as you describe, but I was pretty conservative about doing so, and I'm not sure it's made much difference in getting them to release more easily.


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By charlie elverson
Feb 24, 2012

Has anyone done any substantial mixed climbing on these? Obviously, it's not what they are optimized for, but I wonder how well they climb mixed compared to something I have more experience with like the new cobras or nomics.


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