Carbon fiber is used extensively for its unparalleled strength to weight ratio, stiffness, and vibration dampening characteristics. So why not use carbon for ice tools? Grivel may not be the first to make carbon tools (ie, Black Diamond Cobra’s), but Grivel is the first to produce carbon tools that have an aggressive modern tool shape for leash-less technical climbing.

Grivel Tech Machine Carbon Overview Features

The non-adjustable grip features an interesting mix of rubber, hard plastic and steel. An integrated steel spike at the bottom that can accommodate a spinner leash or full size carabiners should you get in a bind and need to clip off to a draw on your harness belay loop.

Grivel Tech Machine Carbon grip closeup
Grip close up. Photo: Kirk Turner

The Carbon Tech Machine features an oversized clipping hole in head that Grivel is calling the “cyclops” and all their Tech Pick options are forged and purpose built. It clips perfectly on an ice clipper.

Tech Machine Carbon cyclops eye
The Cyclops Eye easily accommodates carabiners and ice clippers. Cody, Wyoming. Photo: Justin Grisham Climber: Kirk Turner

Initial Impressions

As an Industrial Designer, my first thought was: Why does Grivel paint the back quarter of the shaft yellow?! I think they should have let the beautiful carbon show, but such is life, and this does not affect the climbing at all.

Grivel Tech Machine Carbon on backpack
Aggressive modern shape still attaches well to most backpacks. Photo Credit: Justin Grisham Climber: Kirk Turner

Grivel is pushing the modular head envelope even further than Black Diamond or Petzl (until Petzl’s 2018/2019 season updates) on their entire Machine line as they offer the Ice Blade, Mixed Blade, and Ice Plus Blades.

Both the Mixed and the Ice Plus blades have attachment points for both a micro hammer and an adze. These are interchangeable with five different tools leading to many different possible combinations. I have not had a chance to try out the hammer or adze system yet, but I am looking forward to it.

I spent my time with the ice pick that tapers from 5mm at the head down to 2.7mm at the tip. Hot forging allows more intentional material placement vs stamped picks. This allows Grivel to taper, fine tune and lighten or add weight more intentionally, which results in well-crafted picks.

Pure Ice

I’m in love. I spent many years swinging Black Diamond Cobras which are a great all around tool, but they are not ideal as the angle steepens. I spent time on friends Petzl Nomics (pre-2018) with pick weights, but never quite felt at home with them. The Nomics have so much weight in the head, swinging just felt unnatural for me. The Tech Machine fills the gap inbetween.

WI5, Hyalite Canyon
The Good Looking One WI5, Hyalite Canyon, Bozeman, Montana. Photo: Thomas J. Anderson Climber: Kirk Turner

The pick angle is aggressive and similar to the Nomic, and its chisel shape. It is still equally at home on steep and hooky terrain or on rolling classic WI3s. The multi-material handle is grippy, but not overly so. The grip offset from the arc is even more substantial than the Petzl Nomic or Black Diamond Fuel, yet a hair less severe when compared to the Cassin (CAMP) X-Dream. The offset helps more on featured, technical and bulbous ice. The arced shaft and offset handle really helps with hand clearance. I had a former habit of bashing my lower knuckles on occasion, but thankfully that is much less common now.

Sendero Illuminoso WI4
The Ultra Classic Sendero Illuminoso WI4 In Cody, Wyoming. Photo: Justin Grisham

The weight seems about perfect at 1lb 5oz, enough to drive the pick as deep as you want it, but not the few extra ounces that the Fuel Hammer has (1lb. 7oz) . On long vertical pitches I find that weight adds to additional faique if there is no extra climbing benefit. The X-Dream is similar weight, but I felt it needs even more swing speed to feel similarly as sold as the Tech Machine Carbon.

Mixed or Drytooling

These felt ok, but I could feel the shaft flex just a little bit while cranking down hard. Additionally the carbon does scratch when in contact with rocks. I would not hesitate to grab them for longer mixed objectives with lots of ice. If I planned to do a significant amount of dry tooling, the standard Tech Machines are likely a better choice. In this case, I would put Mixed blades on the Tech Machines as the thicker material will last longer. If full on drytooling is your passion, Grivel’s Comp Machine has an even more aggressive pick and grip angle.

Hyalite Canyon
Hyalite Canyon is a beautiful place to test some gear! Photo: Kirk Turner

Glacier Travel, Volcanoes and Alpine

Although the modular picks and option to add an adze increase the versatility, the Tech Machine would not be the best option for plunging. The aggressive grip largely prevents the handle from going into the snow easily. The North Machine fills the alpine space much better with its straighter shaft and grip which is more ideal for plunging on traverses, anchors and steep snow.

Cons – Tech Machine Carbon

Those with the largest hands (ie, XL and XXL) might be out of luck or be forced to try very thin gloves. I once saw an Instagram photo where a large-handed individual took a dremel grinding tool to make more hand space on the handle… NOT a good idea! If you are rough on gear carbon does scratch easier than aluminum, so this could be a con. The secondary grip tape above the handle works fine, but the Industrial Designer in me can’t help and wonder if a more elegant solution could be possible (ie, an overmold like the Black Diamond Fuel)?

Pros – Tech Machine Carbon

These tools swing naturally for just about anyone–from beginners through experts. I took a few newbies out for some basic top roping and had a variety of tools on hand and by the end of the day they had all gravitated to the Tech Machine Carbon. For me the Ice Pick felt stable while hooking on overhanging terrain and also penetrated all kinds of ice well, while still maintaining the ability to clean without expending additional energy.

G1 area, Hyalight Canyon, Montana
The stoke is high! G1 area, Hyalight Canyon, Montana. Photo: Kirk Turner. Climber: Becca Allison

If you are a Nomic devotee, you will need to reduce your “flick” at the end just a little, but it is a minor change. During the course of testing these tools, and sharing with friends, I know of two climbers who took these for a lap eight+ laps, and they have since bought a pair. Dollars speak volumes and many a dirtbag climber has delayed shelling out their cold hard cash until highly motivated and these tools made the cut.


For pure ice and light mixed duty these tools just feel right. They are easy to swing on low angle and they excel on steep ice, especially WI4-5’s. As a devoted weekend warrior these are now my go to tools. I had a chance to take a few laps on the aluminum version (Tech Machine) which was very similar, however with the Carbon version I felt fewer vibrations on any given swing, as the carbon felt just a little more damp. If only Grivel can figure make a length adjustable handle for the large handed folks, everybody could be satisfied. Even as other companies upgrade their tools for the 2018/2019 season, the Tech Machine Carbon will still give them a run for their money.

Moratorium, WI4+ Cody, Wyoming
Headed down for a beer after 400ft of awesomeness on Moratorium, WI4+ Cody, Wyoming. Photo: Kirk Turner Climber: Justin Grisham