On the hardware front, DMM seems to be modernizing their axe line up for 2012/2013 season.
DMM The SwitchDMMThe Switchhttp://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2012/01/new-dmm-ice-toolsthis-week.htmlSetting new standards for technical climbing in any terrain – ice, mixed or alpine. A true, leashless all rounder! If swinging around on a marginal pick placement with both hands matched, gunning for the next sketchy hook is your thing, then look no further, likewise, if quick enchainements in the Alps or psychedelically featured Continental ice float your boat then this is the tool for you. The Switch is DMM’s new ‘state of the art’ full strength leashless tool that takes all of our design heritage and manufacturing knowledge and brings them together as a modern classic. looks like a pretty exact replica of Petzl Nomic. Interesting to see can they one up the competition. I reckon at least their grip rest won't be wobbling and shouldn't break off either, as the handle appears to be fixed part of the shaft. This obviously means that it can't be adjusted, but it probably isn't too bad if the size fits you inthe first place. Might be a bad news for anyone with really small or really large hands though. It is also rumored that they are working on bringing new screw to the market.
On paper the new Switch looks a lot like Petzl NomicPetzlNomichttp://www.petzl.com/files/imagecache/product_outdoor_slideshow_image/node_media/nomic-1_1.jpgThe NOMIC allows the entire rock climbing repertoire to be transferred to ice. Thanks to its adjustable ergonomic handle, it offers multiple grip modes and limits the risk of snagging when switching hands. The ICE pick allows easy penetration in any type of ice, and pulls out easily. The modular head has two removable pick weights to balance the axe and propel it into the ice with an exceptional swing. The NOMIC can also be equipped with a hammer when placing pitons.. it would be interesting to try them out to see whether they feel like it as well. That beings said Black Diamond FusionBlack DiamondFusion looks very similar to Nomic on paper as well, yet feels quite different.