PETZL Quark Ice Tools: A Powerfully Versatile Ice Tool

The Petzl Quarks are a versatile ice tool designed to shine on both alpine ice and waterfall ice.  Petzl recently overhauled the Quarks, bringing ice climbers and alpinisits a new and improved lean, mean fighting machine ice tool.  They dumped the old, clunkier Charlet Moser Quarks and replaced them with these slick, sexy and wickedly accurate new tools.  Put another way, Petzl upgraded from a Ford Focus to a Lexus.

Modularity Adds Versatility
The new Petzl Quarks do not just look prettier, but they have many new technical features and modularity which allow the climber to customize this tool for the specific climb. The interchangeable pieces of the new Quarks are the griprest, trigrest (a combination of strike and index finger rest), headweights, adze, and hammers. These pieces can be mixed and matched on the Quarks to adapt the ice tools for the specific climb.  This tool is versatile – a climber can set it up for waterfall ice, an alpine route or a mix climb.  Doing a big alpine route? Replace one of the hammers with an adze, add or remove the headweight depending on your preference, remove the griprest and trigrest.  Doing a pure ice route? Add or remove both hammers depending on your preference and the climb, add the trigrest, add the griprest, and add or remove the headweights depending on your preference.  Doing a spicy mixed route?  Add or remove the hammers depending on your preference and the route, remove the headweights, and add the trigrest and griprest.  With such versatility in customizing ice tools the possibilities are endless.

These tools are light, light, light
In addition to all the new, nifty features, the Quarks are lighter, much, much lighter.  That’s as light as the Nomics light!  They weigh in at a scant 550 grams!  Yes, you read those digits correctly.  Some ice climbers like more weight to their tools; a headweight can be added to give the head more weight when swinging.  Even with the addition of the headweight, this is still a light tool.   I, like many women, prefer a light tool.  It conserves my energy when swinging and I do not get pumped as easily.  But, tool weight and where that weight is located is a personal preference.  Most of the Quarks’ weight is in its head.  Be sure to test any tool out on ice before making a purchase.

New Quarks’ Curve Goes Aggressive
The Quarks have a steady, balanced swing.  The angle of the shaft curve and head combined with most of this tools weight located in the head lend the Quarks to stick well in the ice on the first swing with no vibration through the shaft.  This tool is quite aggressively shaped, as curved as pure waterfall ice tools.  The aggressive curve gives these tools a solid performance on steep ice and mixed routes.  There are some tools that may perform better on very steep, technical ice and mixed routes due to specialization, but do not discount the Quarks for those harder routes.  They perform well.

An All-Around Tool That Performs Well on All Terrains
For an all-around alpine, ice, and mixed tool the new Petzl Quarks shine with versatility, a balanced swing, and good ice penetration.  If you are looking for a good alpine ice tool that will also perform well on waterfall ice and mixed routes, this just may be the tool for you.

Disclaimer:  The new Petzl Quarks were loaned by Petzl to be tested for this review.


Genevieve Hathaway is a journalist, osteo-archaeologist, world traveler, skier, avid ice climber, and alpinist.  She is the founder, Editor and creative force behind Alpine Athena, a woman’s climbing magazine.  Alpine Athena is a core-focused woman’s alpinism magazine dedicated to the woman climber.  The publication strives to be the leading voice for the woman climber, whether she’s an alpinist, boulderer, rock climber, ice climber, or mountaineer. When not in the office, Genevieve can be found climbing mountains and peaks near her native Seattle, and frozen waterfalls in the Washington Cascades, in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, in Ouray, Colorado and as far away as South Korea. Genevieve chronicles her adventures in climbing and travel on her blogs, IceBella and ArchaeoAdventures.

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