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The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
Four Stars = Better than most comparable gear on the market. It has one or two drawbacks, but still 90% positive.
Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
There are only so many ways of describing an ice tool. Attributes worth discussing are shaft clearance, pick angle and spike pointy-ness—the X-All Mountain excels at all of them. But in reality, biomechanics have a lot to do with matching a user to their perfect tool. And the X-All Mountain feels like a custom tool made just for me.
With it's classic design, neutral angle blade and abnormally large spike, it seems as though this axe was well designed for meandering through low-angle snowfields thinking about the late greats and golden ages - but nothing more.
What started as a gift from a client that I planned only to wear out of courtesy, inadvertently became my go-to layer for climbing, skiing and traveling. If my house were on fire, my Shak jacket is one of the items I would grab on my way out.