1. I have had the head bend on mine when using it as a potty trowel.
2. The pick is a bit short making for stopping in loose snow.
3. I've arrested several times, pulled myself up rock/ice gullys without any problems (ie the head has not detached).
4. As for cutting steps; my experience in hard snow is that it just doesn't cut very well--perhaps I babied it too much knowing its carbon fiber but there's just not enough heft. Additionally the adaze isn't very sharp and doesn't sharpen well or maintain an edge.
As a safety item when your use will be limited to self arrest its light weight makes it very attractive.