Light, stiff, solid, and quite similar to a premium tool already for sale by the brand, Black Diamond Equipment is adding a new member to its technical ice tool family.
I had the chance to test out the to-be-released Fuel recently on some frozen falls.
The Black Diamond Fuel will be unleashed to retailers in fall 2014 and will fetch a retail price of around $260 each. Black Diamond describes it as an all-around performer, able to get you up ice, rock or mixed routes.
Featuring a lightweight shaft “hydroformed” from a single piece of aluminum, Black Diamond claims a light feel, superior swing, and better handling.
“No one else in the industry is doing anything like the Fuel’s one-piece hydroformed shaft,” says Kolin Powick, Black Diamond’s new Category Director for Climbing Equipment. “It’s a quiver of one for the modern winter climber.”
The resemblance to Black Diamond’s Fusion ice tool is obvious. I had the opportunity to do a side-by-side comparison on 60ish feet of WI4 at an ice festival in Minnesota.
Setting both tools together while on the ground, the geometry looks very similar, if not identical. Similar to the also-aluminum Fusion, the Fuel has a stiff feel and solid stick when swung into the ice. The Fuel has a comfortable off-set handle that can be tailored to the user’s hand size.
The Fuel weighs about 1lb 7oz (672g) according to Black Diamond, and it feels well balanced and swings with ease.
Unlike the Fusion, the Fuel has no hammer, but there is still an opening at its head to attach the tool to an ice-clipper on your harness while on rappel. The Fuel will come stocked with Black Diamond’s Fusion Ice Pick. The tool’s single-bolt attachment point will accept any current Black Diamond pick.
After my short testing experience, I believe the Fuel will be a good tool for those looking for an all-around performer for waterfall or mixed ice. It is stiff, versatile and feels good in the hand.
—Peter Lenz is an ice climber who climbs rock in the “off-season” and also enjoys a good alleycat bike race or gravel road century. He lives in Minneapolis.