1/ Where you can find me

In collaboration with:

2/ Who I am

I am Marco Lavatelli, born in 1962, and I live in Cogne which has been a world-renowned ice-climbing centre for more than 10 years. I started to climb at the end of the 1970s. This progressed naturally to vertical ice and to climbing frozen waterfalls which I have now been doing for more than 30 years.
During the years I have been doing this it was usual to join appropriate organisations such as the Italian Alpine Club (CAI) and climbing schools, to take part in courses, gain qualifications and permits and attend meetings covering recent advances in climbing techniques, in insurance and in equipment and its characteristics.
It was usual, then, to run up against a problem with the sharpness of the equipment we use. At the beginning the ice-axes and the crampons needed careful attention as the ice-pitons were not up to their current standard. Then, with the improvement of materials and techniques, one realised that the ice-pitons also needed to be improved and that is where we today.
From sharpening by hand, at a time when one knew how to do it with a file and possessed infinite patience, we have moved on to sharpening by machine just the vertical face of a point.
Subsequently, thanks to the study of angles and reference points, we have been able to sharpen both sides of each point, reaching a positively high standard; we can say with peace of mind that the cutting capability of newly sharpened ice-pitons reaches a level of penetration even higher than when they are new. Recognition of the quality of work carried out has come from the manufacturers themselves who have also asked for advice to guide future production of new ice-screws.
By now thousands of ice-screws, ice-axes and crampons and the bits and pieces that make up mountaineering equipment have passed through my hands and hundreds of enthusiasts, guides and CAI instructors have checked the quality of my work. And every year new clients join the faces I already know who always come back to me at the beginning of each season to have their equipment in absolutely tip-top condition.

Ice pitons

To sharpen ice pitons has always been and it will always be an art more than a simple work: you must love it, must put one's wholw soul into it, must identify you in the user and to eliminate all the possible sources of defect.
From the times of the handmade sharpening with the file, it was my passion to try to obtain an almost specular result of the treated surfaces: for the five school years during which we measured with several micrometers the precision to the hundredth of a millimeter, because the experience teaches that less friction you have, less labour you do, and also because I know always more people and I do bigger and bigger experience.
After the lime, we switched to the sharpening with machine of the vertical angle of the piton: great time saving because I sharped the part of the piton that was entering into contact with the ice, but in the time the piton was compromised.
So we speak about now: the four shanks of the piton come completely remade, eliminating the minimum from the steely material on all the eight faces; as a result it is necessary to redo also the connections between the vertical shoulder and the conseguent oblique side.
The treatment of the piton happens throught a completely manual process, availing itself of a machine conceived exclusively for this work, which sharpens the piton through a diamond millstone what it rotates to about 6000 laps/1'. In no case dangerous temperatures are reached for the materials. To make a good work they are needed about 15 minutes for each piton.
When we speak about mechanics we speak in terms of tenth of millimetre; rarely it is about millimetres and in this case it is necessary to decide it before, because it is a very compromised piton.
It is possible to sharpen almost all the pitons at present in commerce; it doesn't depend on the mark but on type of material and on the diameter.
The final product often is better than that on the time of purchase!

Ice axes

The first think that we look before going to mountain is the point of our axe: it is a synonym of effective penetration, good grip and security.
So it is very important that the use of our tools don't create an energies waste, be in the penetration, be in the extrapolation.
Sometimes, the houses producers introduce on the market blades with not properly optimal corners; or better to say that the blades corners normally in commerce can be improve.
During the years we understood the difference between some axes and the polyvalency of others: it is important always to optimise the qualities of our blades, for the Nord walls, for the waterfalls and for the dry tooling.
The sharpening is made by hand with different types of file, depending on the characteristics of the blades and of the dammages have be repaired. So it is possible to check the work obtained without waste of material, optimising the results.
It's clear that a frequent use of the tools leads to a greater casuistry of damage, but often, with a small work with a file, we can refer the blades in the best conditions. It is necessary to say that all the houses builders sell separately replacement blades for our axes: so it is possibile to use again our old axe, without spending a lot of money.


It might seem strange, but in many years of activity, I noticed with regret that bring to me always to sharpen many couples of axes and really few pairs of crampons.

Still, if you think about it, on crampons weighs all your body for all the day; we stumble into trees, we crash into the rocks, and we look for a crack for our mono-point!

No, the truth is another: the truth is that we don’t understand the importance of having a couple sharp crampons until…..we try crampons sharp again; and then we notice the difference!

We all know that legs have much more strenght than arms, and therefore we plan to overcome the lack of sharpness by force. Nothing more wrong!

When you are on the delicate, the strenght doesn’t need, and it is usually too late to get angry for the non-maintenance of the equipment.

If you look at able people climb on ice you will find that they often support without stamp the feet; but in any case the crampons hold well. Then an explanation about the grip must be there!

Even the crampons to twelve tips, those that aren't good for making waterfalls, need maintenance: a part from general cleanup duty, it is appropriate to maintain the sharp points, without exaggeration; this for not to weaken too much the structures that will be in contact with rocks and iron stairs like for example the external stairs of mountain huts.

The sharpening is done by hand with several type of files, depending on the type of crampons and repairs to carry out on the equipment. The complete sharpening of a pair of crampons takes about 60 minutes.


Maybe not all of us are willing to admit that when we go to climb and we meet other people, we peek their material, the way they wear it, if it is brand-mark material, if it is keep well or badly, if it is personalized.

I assure you that all those who go to the mountain, know that material doesn't maintain itself. It is important to take care about material be when we use it, be when we don't use it. Try to leave the backpack, after doing a waterfall, in the cellar without undoing it, and after a week you look at your ice pitons and crampons: rust begins to appear!

So I don't want to tell you to be maniacs but, with some niceties, it is possible to avoid situations otherwise irreparable. How many times we are with cold hands to curse the crampons strap that, completely frayed, won't get into the closing ring?

There are also some types of maintenance that require manual dexterity and more specific tools.

A friend with a broken cable can be repaired and not necessarily deleted from your rack; a founded ice-piton can come back to the new after a good treatment and control.

It must be clear for all, that for all the material there is a maintenance limit: a too short ice piton cannot be any more sharp; if we have got a too used axe, we can do the point again, but it would not have any more the measures to respect the least beat corners and then it would be a useless work! To a modular crampon of the last generation it is possible to change the points but to a crampon with the front points to plate consumed, it is useless to do the blade again: it would be unusable or at least it would give a false certainty, incomplete in its functions.

I don't like to pass false images on to the people!




A graduation of mechanical expert, years of sharpening and the climbing experience are the marriage that it carries to the knowledge of the equipment of mountain.


The sharpening made to the tenth of millimetre it consents to not waste material and to obtain results always at Top.

Work machinery

The use of machinery built specially by specialised professionals allows me to work with tools of the highest quality.

To the letter

The study of mountaineering material allows me to treat the single pieces respecting corners and nominal mesures during the work.


I'm traceable be in working time, be in “climbing” time, as for the withdraw, as for the delivery of the materials.


The delivery and the restitution may be made in centre having an arrangement with or personally, subject to agreement by phone.

4/ Tarifs

Service Price


5/ Write me

Don't hesitate to get in touch if you need more information or details.

6/ Contact me


21, Via bourgeois - Cogne (AO)
Italy - (Market Rey)

Phone and e-mail address

+39 348 9840597

7/ Where I am