Charly Oliver of Trango was nice enough to loan me a pair of their latest ice axes, aptly named the Captain Hook. These attractive tools have a nicely curved "clearance shaft" with a rubberized grip and an agressively drooped pick design. You have a choice of adze or waffle hammer. I tested with the hammer on both tools. The optional Gripper Leash is$15.95 retail and is comfortable.
I took them out on a solo run up Standard Route at Frankenstein one Thursday morning. Moving up the easy 70 degree ice to the cave they felt solid and predictable. The moves left out from the cave require a hook with the right tool behind a curtain, while leaning out and placing the left as you move onto more vertical ground. I felt perfectly comfortable with both tools in this situation. The curve of the shaft made it easy to move over bulges and stick into scooped out areas. Cleaning the tool from the ice was not quite as easy as my Cobras, but way better than my Pulsars. I hardly ever had to swing more than once to get a stick, they were that good. By the last pitch I felt comfortable enough to take a significantly more agressive line up the vertical curtain on the right side. The only problem I had in 2 days of use was one pick bolt loosening up one time, but a tweak with a wrench and it never happened again. Be aware too that the knob at the end of the shaft makes this axe basically unsuitable as an alpine tool.
These tools are real sleepers. They feel good, swing well and at $179 are an excellent value. While I'm not ready to give up my Cobras quite yet, I can certainly recommend these to anyone looking for a new tool.
choice of adze or waffle hammer, leash not included, Length: 50cm, Weight: 748 gm (26 oz.)