I remember getting my first pair of ice tools in the mail back when I was in High School. They were a pair of Grivel Rambos with just a slight bend in the lower shaft. I could barely wait to get out that weekend and use them. Getting new ice tools, like getting new toys as a kid, increases my motivation. I want to get out on the ice as soon as possible to try them out and see where they can take me.
I recently received the latest in Black Diamonds esteemed line of ice tools. The new Fusion takes the place of the "old" orange Fusion that had been around for a while. The older Fusion had made it's mark as the best drytooling tool on the market if not the most popular ice climbing tool.
The latest Fusion closes that divide between drytooling and ice performance with an almost completely redesigned tool. The shaft is twisted ninety degrees as most of the BD tools are to increase clearance and distribute weight more evenly when swinging. The head of the tool includes a small integrated hammer which appears unlikely to be of much use but actually performs well banging pins, spectres, and other desperate pieces of winter pro. Using the hammer requires the climber to choke up on the shaft a bit and I've had great success placing all sorts of bang in protection with these tools so far. The Handle includes a reinforced upper pommel which is a nice improvement on the last Fusion. The last model's upper grip got torn up quickly and BD has solved this problem by reinforcing it with metal. The lower grip features a wide and comfortable pinky rest and can be adjusted in size using removable spacers.
The tool comes with a spike on the bottom of the shaft for plunging and walking which I removing for fear of lobotomizing. I would recommend that people do this unless you're headed into the alpine.
I've had the opportunity to use this tool on a variety of terrain from upside-down sport mixed climbing to traditional Scottish style mixed to straight up ice and I've been blown away by the all-around performance of the tool. There are ample opportunities to give them a try in the coming weeks at this weekend's Mount Washington Valley Ice Fest and at the Catskills Ice Fest the weekend of Feb. 20th. I would highly recommend checking them out!