- Price: £140
Have you ever tried to pack your avalanche shovel and ice axe but not had enough room in your bag? If so, here’s some good news. Thanks to Backcountry Access you can now leave some weight and bulk behind, and just take: the Backcountry Access Shaxe Tech Shovel.
It’s aimed at more serious alpinists than its little brother, the Shaxe Speed. That one has the advantage of being a little lighter, but the Tech version comes with a much sturdier pick head and a curved shaft that makes swinging it at icy patches less bruising on the knuckles. You also get a grippier surface to hold on to, as well as a spike on the base to help haul yourself up unstable pitches.
"The blade has well-positioned serrations to minimise effort when cutting downwards"
So that’s the axe, now the shovel: BCA have packed so much technology into what might just look like a simple shovel it’s actually a bit crazy seeing how much this thing can do. Along with extremely well thought-out ergonomics on the shaft to stop it twisting laterally in your hands whilst digging, the blade can come away on its own to become a snow anchor, and even has a kit included to convert the whole thing into a rescue sled when combined with a pair of skis! It has to be seen to be believed.
When using the BCA Shaxe Shovel to dig, the blade has well-positioned serrations to minimise effort when cutting downwards, whilst the back of the blade is smooth enough for making clear snow pits to analyse depth.
The whole thing packed down weighs just 902g, but if you want to leave the axe head at home it comes down to 706g. Considering what it’s capable of, that not a lot of extra weight to shoulder!
Geoff Schellens - UAIGM Mountain Guide
Backcountry Access have done a fantastic job blending function and weight savings with their new Shaxe Tech shovel/ice axe combo.
I put the Shaxe Tech to the test in May on a climb up the West Rib of Mt. Denali, North America’s highest summit.
The medium-sized shovel blade and the slight curve to the shaft make this a very useful shovel. I particularly liked the flat blade (perfect for digging pits), and how cleanly it can be stowed in a pack.
When the shovel blade and handle are removed and the steel head of the ice axe is attached, it becomes a very functional mountain axe. It’s even certified by TUV for Type 1 (Basic) use.
Overall I found the BCA Shaxe Tech to be an incredibly useful tool for when space and weight are a concern.