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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The new Petzl Quark

The is a repost from early April 2011.  But as we roll into the fall ice season and the winter of 2011/2012 I thought it worth revisting for those looking to buying new tools.  I'll have a new Nomic/Fusion comparison up soon as well.  And a new Cobra/Quark comparison.  And finally, since so few have gotten to use the newest Ergo another set of comments on that tool as well from some recent alpine climbing with it.

        New Quark buried in Neve with a lwt C-T adze.

Hardly new now as the first tools showed up here in the States back in Oct/Nov. of 2010.  The issues with the new Nomic and Ergo appeared and for one reason or another even the unaffected Quarks weren't available in large numbers again until mid Feb. 2011.  I played with a pair at the Bozeman Icefest.  But wasn't able to get my own pair until the week before I left for Chamonix in late March. For may folks in the warmer parts of the US the ice season was winding down by that time.the tools were available again.  Hard to justify new tools at full price at the tail end of your season not knowing what will be available next year.

(I don't know of anything new coming along for 2011-2012)

More than a few waiting for the new Nomic.  The Nomic may be worth the wait for some but easy to over look the more durable and likely a better all around tool, the Quark.  Many will have a the option of even more/better choices for their own use by having the new all around Quark and the even more technical (than the Nomic) new Ergo available.

The new Quark is certainly built in the Nomic's image.  The handle contours are very close and most importantly the aluminum heads are exactly the same profiles.

You have to look back at the original Quark to make a good comparison.  Petzl has changed more than just the head of the tool.  But changing the head made a new hammer and a new adze required on the newest tool.  Even the picks were changed.  Making them now T rated instead of B rated in both versions, the new ICE and New DRY.  Add to that you get a slightly deeper pick angle on the newest Quark.

Below: pictured is the new pick angle on the top over lay.  The new pick is slightly steeper, may be 2 degrees..  Middle is the newest ICE pick tip profile.  The  DRY version is the same tip profile.  The bottom picture is the older Cascade Nomic pick profile.

So as you can see, it aint your old Quark.  The new Quark with a hammer weights in at 588g or 528g with no hammmer.  The old Quark with a hammer installed is 682g.

With the new Quark that includes a second higher grip in both over all weights.  With after market hammers and adzes available for the new Quark and the additional factory movable second grip the new Quark has a lot of options. 

The newest Petzl factory hammer on the left on a new Quark.  The C-T hammer on a original style Nomic right. Weights vary from 30g for the low profile C-T hamemr to  60g for the Petzl hammer.

The other improvement that Petzl made on the new tool is a full size carabiner hole in the spike to clip umbilicals into.   Big improvement.

 This one of my personal Quarks, with fixed trigger for high daggering, a rubber grip wrap and a C-T hammer installed.   Lots of options on how you set this tool up.  And an incredibly versatile tool on any terrain.  The Adze in the opening photo is its mate.

Snow slogs...

Used here to good effect on hard technical dry tooling.  Jack Roberts on a bolted M7+ @ a dry tooling area in France.

I have climbed with the Nomic almost exclusively since it became available.   The Quark before that.   Abandoning every other tool in my quiver sometimes to my detriment.  Only the new Ergo has swayed me until now.   The new Quark has taken the majority of technical advantages of the Nomic and added them to a more vestal shaft of the older Quark.  All the while giving you a majority of the Nomic's advantages in one form or another (the moving slider grip)  while offering some additional advantages on less technical ground.  The new Quark is one of the few tools imo that rivals and generally betters the original Nomic as a truly all around tool.   Seems I am not the only one who thinks so.  I suspect this guy at any given moment has a choice of ANY tool that Petzl makes.  You think?

Hard not to be pleased with the newest Quark.  For many the Quark will be a better (and more appreciated) all around tool.


Unknown said...

Would the Quantum Tech be a competitor to the new Quarks given the light weight nature and alpine focus of both tools? At this point is the any reason to look at an older tool like the Quantum Tech?

Dane said...

Grivel makes some good tools. The Quantum Techs has been around a while but I don't think it is appropriate to think of the design as a "older tool", it isn't by design.

Easy to argue both sides of the the new Quark and the Quantum Tech for design. Best thing to do is try both in the store and see what fits your fancy. Either will climb much harder technically than their owners generally.

It is easy to let my personal preferences out there. But the Matrix Tech and Quantum Tech are both good tools.

I haven't written much on the Grivel gear because I don't have easy acccess to it generally. And the fact I can only climb on two tools at a time. Add the expense of wearing out picks on mixed and having to replace them ...and one system/manufacture makes sense.

I have used and really like their crampons (G12 and G22) but have very little experince with their tools. A couple of my partners are climbing on them how ever and seem to do just fine on the Quantum Tech.

Anonymous said...

If you were going to spend most of your time climbing W4 W5 and some mixed stuff at crags and not alpine routes would the Nomic still be the clear choice or is the Quark pretty close in this regard?

Dane said...

Yes, if you aren't planning on any alpine climbing, the Nomic is a better technical tool. Your climbing will likely jump a full grade on ice and mixed...if you are coming from a less technical tool!

510iso said...

Hi Dane, thanks for the comprehensive review, and great site! What are your thoughts about using a quark as a second tool with an axe on less technical alpine routes? Is it versatile enough- plus the reduced weight- to replace something like the BD Venoms as all-around second tools?

Thanks for taking the time to read. I've just started climbing in the Sierra winters more and rarely encounter the need for a full set of tools at this point, but wondered if a single quark would be the right step- first as a second tool and later to be matched? Or if they are too technical for that and the Venom (or something similar) might still be the better all-around second. Thanks!

Dane said...

Greetings 510,
I think the new Quark would make a perfect 2nd tool in hgmmer form and easy to match with later for a pair. Smart thinking!

Just get the "right" hammer to go along with that "perfect" tool :)

Buy the adze version up front and then add a CT hammer and you'll have the best of both worlds and likely get more use of your new Quark as well.

510iso said...

Thanks for the prompt response! I'll put the C-T order in as soon as I'm able. So would you say that the hybrid axes, in spite of their marketing and popularity, are less practical in most situations than are covered with a simple axe plus ice tools? In other words, since the Quarks are so light, is there ever a situation where the Venom-type axes are preferable, maybe steep snow? I'm curious about your experienced thoughts on this innovation's functionality (or not). Thanks again!

Dane said...

I wish! The technical tools rock.

Nice to have options and they aren't appropiate on all ground but once you get a pair of Quarks there is little in the alpine ice world you can't do.

I seldom climb with anythng but a pair of Nomic or now the new Ergo. I might take a lwt straight axe or a ski pole as well....but I always take a modern technical tool if there is any actual climbing to be done.

ChrisK said...

Dane - I'm really looking forward to your review of Cobra vs new Quark - especially since I'm facing that decision right now. Especially if I want to get in on your next run of hammers! Any chance of a sneak preview?

Dane said...

Petzl tools generally have better second grips, better picks by far and better hammer surfaces available.

I simply think they are easier to climb with for most.

James said...

Hey Dane, so as a result of a frustrating backorder, I have one 2011 Quark, and one 2012 Quark. Interestingly enough, the 2012 model has a slightly different pick angle by a few millimetres. Anyway, the second tool I got has the Petzl adze on it, and wow, it really sucks. Weight wise, it feels about twice as heavy as the Petzl hammer, and it's just huge and ungainly. Any chance you have any CT adzes laying around, or could machine one for me?

Dane said...

sorry, no

Talisman Mountaineering | Cairngorm Guides said...

Tried to email you but couldn't find an email or contact link! I've now had three Trigrests break on the New Quark and others have had similar breakages. The first one broke on day one of use and recently two have broken in the last week. I've contacted Petzl UK via Lyon about it. See my Facebook Page at for photos and comments

Cheers Ron

Dane said...

Hi Ron, sorry about the contact info. Some how it had been deleted. Thanks for pointing it out to me. Trig rests? They have been breaking since day one of the new Quark's release. Fragile bit of plastic kit. Ya gotta be gentle with them and if you depend on them, buy a hand full of spares.

I've had good luck with mine but I pulled the lever out and simply bolted them to the shaft. I'm also rather careful with them. Here it is typically the odd ice bulge that does them in. On a bit of hard mixed any good smack on a rock will, most certainly, "kill" one.