Wednesday, 01 August 2018 09:31

Salewa Alpine X Ice Axe – tested and reviewed

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Remember the heavy, long shaft ice axes of yesteryear (that probably wouldn’t look out of place on a museum mantelpiece)? A new wave of shiny anodized ice axes are hitting the market faster than you can say the words ‘alpine’, with the latest offering from Salewa that uses hybrid technology combining performance and lightweight construction for mountaineering.

The Salewa Alpine-X is the techies’ new favourite for ticking off classic mountaineering routes. A great piece of kit if you’re looking for a lightweight axe which still ticks the spec for mountaineering (straight shaft, space to clip a karabiner) yet combine this with a sharp technical pick for steep couloirs and glacier work. If you’re looking for an ice axe with performance and weight saving in mind, the Alpine-X is a snazzy new product from Salewa to try on the next alpine adventure.

Salewa Alpine X 1 

Salewa’s description:

A lightweight, hybrid ice axe for general mountaineering. Its ergonomic shape makes it especially comfortable to carry in the hand when used for support on ascents and descents. Its strong, aggressive steel blade gives improved penetration in steep alpine couloirs or for glacier work. With a sharpened adze for effective cutting steps and chopping ledges and straight shaft for smooth plunging and secure belay construction.

Price: £100.00 Weight: 53cm shaft ( 350g)


  • Extremely comfortable to carry in the hand thanks to ergonomically shaped head
  • Aggressive 3 mm blade designed for reliable penetration in ice and snow
  • Good anchoring due to weight concentrated in precision-cast steel head
  • Straight shaft for good snow penetration and reliable belay construction (deadman)
  • Sharp (replaceable) carbide tip at bottom for better grip when moving on hard snow or ice
  • Sharpened adze for effective cutting steps and chopping ledges
  • Compatible with SALEWA self-locking handrest and handloop
  • Holes for clipping carabiner at head and bottom of shaft base
  • Anodised and hardened high-tech aluminium 7075, T6 shaft

Salewa Alpine X 2 


Ice axes are one of the pieces of equipment where lightweight, technical axes are making more of an appearance. As one of the lightest mountaineering ice-axes available, the Alpine- X weighs in at a mere 350g. Compared to the other options available, the weight saving is staggering, especially when you compare it to the equivalent DMM Cirque 55cm (565g) , DMM Raptor 55cm (645g) or the Black Diamond Raven Ultra Mountaineering Axe (360g) or Petzl Summit 52cm (360g.)

A few of the friends I went climbing with remarked on whether the axe was suitable to use for using as a T-anchor. According to Salewa’s website, it says the axe is ideal for ‘anchoring due to weight concentrated in precision-cast steel head.’


The Alpine X has the build for a classic mountaineering axe with a straight shaft made out of carbon steel, designed for good snow penetration. From stomping up 45 degree snow slopes to reach Arête de la Table to descending scramble slopes on Aiguille de Tour, the ice axe feels comfortable to hold under gloves and will slot into snow when moving across glacier.

Salewa Alpine X 7 

A sharpened adze is useful for cutting steps into the snow and carving ledges, whilst the technical 3 mm blade is designed for reliable penetration in ice and snow.

The sharp aggressive blade easily cuts into ice so for routes which may have small icy sections, such as just off the central buttress of Point Lachenal, the ice axe was perfect for moving along the steep slopes and carefully crossing the glacial sections along Vallée Blanche.

However when storing/ transporting the ice axe, I did have to purchase a blade/ adze protector to avoid stabbing myself with the sharp blade - it’s worth picking one of these up from the numerous gear shops in Chamonix to avoid skewering others in the lift when you detach your axe from your pack.

There is also a carbide tip at bottom for better grip when moving on hard snow and ice which can be replaced if it becomes blunt.

Salewa Alpine X 5


Retailing at £100.00, the Salewa Alpine-X is certainly not the cheapest ice axe out there, but is a useful investment to have as an alternative option when weight matters.


The Salewa Alpine-X ice axe has a matte navy blue anodized and hardened finish with the white salewa lettering horizontally on the shaft. It’s fairly obvious that you are a) advertising Salewa and b) looking fairly flash when you have it attached to the outside of your pack, but isn’t that the first rule of alpinism…?

Salewa Alpine X 6

Overall, I found the Salewa Ice Axe was a great ice axe to use for mountaineering out in the Alps, and has made a big difference to the weight of my kit when out on routes. Whilst I’ll still be keeping hold of my trusted old axes for Scottish winter, the Salewa Alpine-X does what it says on the shaft and is a great piece of kit to try and save precious weight.