Furnace Industries, a USA based company that operates out of New York was generous enough to send me a pair of their premium (and only) ice tools dubbed the “Kronos“. These tools have one major feature that stands them apart from the competition. The Kronos tools are the only Ice Tools available on the market that are made out of WOOD… Yes, wood! Kronos was the name of the Father of Zeus, Greek titan of the universe! But can these tools represent his name? Let’s find out.
First, lets get some specifications out of the way.
- Weight: 1 lb 7.8 oz (Per Tool)
- Length: 19 in (48.26 cm)
- Shaft Material: Densified Beech Laminate
- Pick Material: Hardened Tool Steel
- MSRP: $329
First, let me start by saying I was somewhat skeptical about the wooden shaft of the Kronos tool. How could these possibly be as strong as aluminum tools? Well my skepticism was put to rest pretty much the instant I held the tools in my hands. The Kronos tools are incredibly stiff and feel solid in the hand. I’m a relatively new climber but I can tell a quality product when I hold it!
Ergonomics and Design
At first glance the Kronos tools share a very similar shape to the Petzl Nomic and Black Diamond Fuel. They have an ergonomic forward curve that protects your hands and allows you to swing over bulges with ease. They’re not quite curved as aggressive as the Camp Cassin X-Dream. The handle of the tool is scalloped for your fingers and has a carved pommel along with a secondary upper grip. Surprisingly no grip tape or rubber is molded into the grip. The lack of a rubberized grip isn’t a huge deal since the wood is naturally more grippy than a metal tool. Adding your own grip tape isn’t a big deal either!
The head of the Kronos tool features a large hole for clipping a carabiner to. This is handy for clipping the tools to your harness while on rappel or at the belay. The handles of the tool also feature a hole for tieing accessory cord through, handy for attaching an umbilical leash or for clipping into for an ice axe anchor in a pinch.
The pommel of the tool features small but usable teeth that work when using the axe as a cane on low angle snow and ice.
Ice Climbing with the Kronos
For pure ice climbing the Kronos tools are a dream. The wooden shaft has a unique dampening effect when swinging the tool into brittle hard ice. This can reduce fatigue in the hands on long cold climbs. The other major benefit I found was that the tools aren’t as thermally conductive as metal tools. They don’t suck the heat from your hands when you’re handling them, instead they are a natural form of insulation. The “ice” picks penetrate and stick into hard ice with ease and I found them to perform exceptionally well in both slushy and hard ice.
These tools are about 70-80 grams heavier than the competition. However, this actually works to their advantage and the added weight helps the inertia during swings. I found that loosely holding the tools and letting them pivot on the pinky side of my hand during a swing resulted in solid sticks with little effort.
Mixed and Dry Tooling with Kronos
It’s obvious to me that these tools were designed for pure ice climbing and not for rock placements. However, I found these tools worked quite well for the occasional rock move between ice sections. I even managed to use these tools for some dry tooling on my back yard training wall! The tools are T-Rated so they are more than capable for climbing on rock if you need to.
If you do find yourself on mixed climbs more often, and you want to pick up a pair of Kronos. I recommend that you also purchase an extra set of the “mixed” picks from Furnace Industries as they are T-Rated and a bit more robust than the “B-Rated” ice picks.
The demo pair of tools that Furnace Industries sent me was 6 years old. They’ve been through 6 years of “Ice Fests” and demo sessions. I was surprised to learn how much these tools have been used considering how well they looked out of the box. I do have some reservations with the wood shaft. I wonder how hard of a hit it would take before it could be damaged… this is something I was unable to test as I had to send the tools back in decent shape!
As for the picks, they really took a beating during my time with them. Early season ice climbing in the North East is notorious for bottoming out tools, crampons, and screws. These picks hit rock quite a few times and still appeared to remain sharp. No complaints here!
The Furnace Industries Kronos tools were surprisingly fun to climb with. They also attracted a lot of attention from fellow climbers “Dude! are those wood?!” “Yup!” . The tools performed well on varied terrain from low angle WI1 right up to WI4 steep ice and even dry tooling on my training wall. I really enjoyed how noticeably warmer my hands were when using these tools.
Pricing is right up there with the competition. Black Diamond, Camp, and Petzl all sell their premium steep ice tools for $300 (Fuel, X-Dream, and Nomic). While Furnace Industries has the Kronos on the market for $330. These tools cannot be cheap to make due to their unique construction and probably lower production quantities compared to the “big guys”. This is probably why they charge slightly more than the competition. Also, they’re made and assembled in the USA!
I think any ice climber could appreciate these tools. Particularly ones that may like to be different to stand out. It’s almost guaranteed you’ll be the only guy at the crag wielding wooden tools! There’s something inspiring about them. I guess my only reservation to buying these tools would be long term use dry tooling or on hard mixed climbs with repeat shaft bashing. But for pure ice? Yup! these are a winner in my book.
Visit https://furnace-industries.com/about-kronos to pick up your own pair of Kronos Tools!