Review: Grivel Dark Machine

Grivel continues to forge the progression of climbing equipment with their newest ice tool: the Dark Machine. These tools have a sleek look that lives up to their name, but obviously, performance is where they really shine. A full carbon-fiber shaft keeps weight to a minimum, and textured handles help your gloves stick without over-gripping.

The Dark Machine's upper hand-rest is smaller than on the comparable Petzl Nomic, and it's shaft is about one inch shorter. It also has no adjustment for different-sized hands on the lower hand-rest. Climbers with big mitts might find this inconvenient. But if the handle works for you, the Dark Machine's weight savings over the aluminum-shafted Nomic are a huge reward. Part of that comes from the carbon-fiber shaft, but also unlike the Nomic, the Dark Machine doesn't come with pre-installed pick weights or a hammer (though Grivel offers a smattering of accessories you can attach). At 95g (3.4 oz) lighter per tool, the Dark Machine takes noticeably less effort to finagle into precise placements when you're getting pumped with your hands above your head. And assuming you're climbing with two tools, that's over half a pound less to carry on the approach. Grivel offers six different picks for the Dark Machine, which are also compatible with five of their other ice tools. Available at Uphill Pursuits; $420.