I started using the original Petzl sum-tec in 2011. It is a great tool for mountaineering and glacial travel along with the occasional steep ice step. When the updated but shorter version of the tool came out last year, I quickly got my hands on one.
The 43 cm sum-tec has everything that I liked about the original sum’tec, including the same reverse curve pick, that excels when climbing steep ice but now it is shorter and has a hammer as opposed to an adze. Of note, Petzl currently makes the original sum-tec with a hammer. Like the older model, the pick is also interchangeable and replaceable. The shorter tool is more suited to the climbing objectives I typically find myself in, e.g long alpine routes that are a mix of rock and alpine ice or steep snow. Since it is shorter, it is lighter (15 oz) and can fit inside a backpack to be stowed away when it is not needed. This is advantageous when transitioning from snow and ice climbing to rock climbing, as a tool tucked away in the pack is unlikely to get hung up on difficult rock sections compared to a tool that is strapped to a backpack. The hammer works well when pounding in pitons. And the updated trigrest handrest, can be easily adjusted with the lift of a lever to place in a spot that promotes a powerful swing or it can be stowed out of the way when plunging the axe.
I have used this tool on my attempt of Fitz Roy combined with a quark ice tool to create a set of tools that covers mellow and technical terrain. I have had friends that will use two of the tools as a set and are able to climb steep alpine ice without an issue. On my recent trip to India, I found this tool to be particularly effective. While following on the lower angle ice pitches at the beginning of our new route on the unclimbed Taare Pabart in the Zanskar Range, this tool performed quite well. The aggressive pick helped me feel incredibly secure in this remote mountain range and allowed my team to go lighter by bringing just one tool for following and a technical set of tools for leading. On this trip in particular, the 43 cm Sum’tec was an example of this ice tools perfect use. I’ve also used it around the Wasatch in Utah on some of the classic ski mountaineering objectives and on some of the historical routes in the French and Swiss Alps.
In short, this is THE TOOL to get for alpine climbing when the terrain varies from rock to ice and everything in between. Trust me, you wont be disappointed.