The idea of an independent and truly objective ice climbing gear test is as old as the project of an artificial ice climbing wall. That one we opened for public in 2006 in a caravan site near the village of Vír. Since 2008, when it was moved to a more attractive locality, it has become a phenomenon in the Czech Republic. With hundreds of ice wall climbers from various places in the Czech Republic, a variety of gear have been coming, covering the whole range from the product made by top global manufacturers to home-made items. Ice axes, crampons, ice screws, impregnated ropes, and so on. In all-night chats, geometry, balancing, used materials, availability, and prices were compared and fervently discussed. As the full gear is quite costly, it is worth knowing where and how to get the equipment, which parameters one seeks and what suits you best. And this is where the business plan regarding building a test centre came from. However, furnishing a test centre is much more difficult than starting an ordinary rental shop. With a rental place, it is enough to start cooperation with a single manufacturer or supplier. Yet not every producer desires to have their products shown next to competition company’s products, with non-censored and publicly available rating and feedback from customers. In that time, the price for independence and unbiased approach was simply too high.
It took us nearly ten years to prepare everything for our think-big project. In June, 2018, we finally managed to open our long-time dreamt-of Adrex Base Camp, a base camp providing support for multiple sport activities, involving mountain biking, wildwater activities, via ferratas, and naturally also ice climbing. All these sports can be tried in the neighbourhood of Vír, as an increasing number of visitors may testify. And, while trying a new activity, why not with the most suitable gear? If you are interested in mountain biking or white water rafting, you are welcome to read more at www.adrex.cz. In this article, we focus exclusively on ice climbing gear.
A few months ago, we started shopping. We have been buying ice axes and crampons made by all the manufacturers in the world. Believe us, all means all. We can be unbiased because we really buy all the equipment, so we are not pushed to give fake positive feedback and reviews out of pure gratitude. The truth that some companies feel happy to send us their products and we plan to expand the variety of their products available in cooperation is counter-balanced by the fact we have to buy products from other manufacturers nearly undercover :-) Hard to say what their marketing experts are afraid of. Anyway, the test centre in Vír is slowly becoming a full-range and the largest ice climbing test centre in Europe. Anyone is allowed and encouraged no only to feel the gear in their hand, but, if the weather is in your favour, also to try it on the local ice wall.
In the past, a high number of ice climbing gear tests of different quality and objectivity were published on the internet and in specialised magazines. The concepts were mostly alike, with a single writer testing various products and publishing their own personal view as a valid test result. With ice axes and crampons, as well as with anything else, people’s views vary. And if your major source of information is provided by the few Czech outdoor companies’ marketing departments, it is difficult to base your choice on solid foundations. In Adrex Base Camp, the rating and feedback is up to you. Our main goal is not to publish top 5 lists or reviews. We primarily want to help you choose ice axes and crampons which will suit your personal climbing style and needs and help you enjoy ice climbing as much as you can. It is up to you where you buy them and how much you pay. The only price is our rental fee which you would pay in any other rental shop, anyway.
The Adrex Base Camp test centre is a new-born baby. The winter will prove if this unique concept is sustainable and if it meets your expectations. Part of its fate is in the hands of Mother Nature. It will hopefully gift us with as good conditions for icing the Vír wall as in the previous ten years. And even though we also offer the option to test the equipment on a simulator and on a log, ice is ice. You are welcome to visit us at Vír 173, Czech Republic. We will be happy to see you :-)