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The Black Diamond Viper’s one-of-a-kind shaft offers exceptional clearance.
Black Diamond Viper, $234
Summary: The Viper shaft’s 90-degree-rotated major axis adds space between the shaft and the tip of the pick for extra clearance. The tool’s pick is well suited for dry-tooling and a wide variety of ice conditions. Its shallow droop angle allows a natural swing, but detracts just slightly from hooking security. The grip has finger shelves and a thumb groove for control, and a comfortable pinky shelf. While using the Viper’s detachable Android leash, I could not get my hand on top of the tool to drive the spike without unclipping from the tool, and it took some practice to get proficient at clipping in and out of the tool.
Pros: Good clearance. Ergonomic grip.
Cons: Limiting leash system.
Overall grade: A
Black Diamond: (801) 278-5552, www.bdel.com