Ice tools are funny things. In the beginning they were wood, then they were steel, then aluminum, carbon fiber, and now... back to wood.
Tools have personality, and after even a few seasons, all of them have a story to tell. Tools wear in and become chipped and worn, nicked and scraped, each mark a record of a moment in the climber's life. Tools are swung into the ice or hooked on the rock and act not only as an extension of one's physical self, but also the emotional self. We 'feel' our climb through our ice tools.
Finding the right tools can result in a magnificent marriage between gear and climber, best friends who add up to more than the sum of their parts. For some, they are easily their most cherished piece of climbing equipment.
In his article Against the Grain, Switzerland-based adventurer and writer Bruno Schull compares the Bhend Ice Ax to the Furnace Industries KRONOS. Schull reveals some startling reasons why climbers chose wood then, and why they will choose wood now and into climbing's future.