I love my Black Diamond Fuel Ice Tools.
This reflects a change of heart.
Recently, I dumped my Cobra tools and took up with a pair of Fuels.
For years the Cobra and I were in a solid and trusting relationship. They were my favorite ice climbing and technical alpine climbing tools.
I loved the Cobra for its intuitive swing—similar to a tennis serve or throwing a ball. With the Cobra much power and momentum comes with little effort. I also appreciated the Cobra for its exaggerated arc and clearance when climbing over bulges.
However, one day while climbing with my Cobras, I got extremely pumped on a strenuous lead. I lost all the strength to raise my elbow and drop my tool back. I could not execute a “proper” swing. Instead, I found myself moving with an abbreviated and more downward motion. After this, I started looking for another tool.
What I found is that the proper swing of a Fuel is more abbreviated and downward.
The Fuel’s swing fits perfectly with the only kind of swing I have left when I’m totally gassed.
Since then, the Fuels and I have been tight.
But there is another reason why the Fuel has become my favorite ice climbing tool.
When I climbed with my Cobras, I was afraid to use the upper grip. I found the Cobra easily popped out of the ice if I exerted the least bit of outward pull.
Since, I was scared that my tools would pop, I climbed with an outdated technique. I glued my hands to my ice tools. Meanwhile, the newer, or more evolved ice climbing technique is to freely move ones hands, both between tools and up and down the shaft, as the terrain and climbing moves dictate.
The shape of the Fuel’s upper grip and shaft, on the other hand, are more forgiving of an accidental outward pull.
This means the Fuel has the potential to transform my ice climbing. Using the upper grip on an ice tool is extremely useful for maximizing reach. Also, the upper grip is useful for getting into an extended repertoire of body positions.
Thank You, Black Diamond Fuel, for giving me the confidence to continue to learn and grow my climbing.