A couple comments. Firstly, I would lean to a non-metallic material like wood, carbon fiber etc. I ice climb pretty much every weekend and the metallic bits I work with all freeze up in short order in cold, wet conditions. non-metallic stuff takes a lot longer to freeze. Basically metal is a great conductor of heat so if anything is going to ice up that will do it first. I suspect this was your problem with the aluminum tripod.
Secondly I would call the folks at The Camera Store in Calgary. There prices are competitive and they are in an area that sees real winter, a condition very different from Vancouver.
Oh, and a parting thought on the fragile nature of carbon fiber. some of the better ice axes out there have carbon fiber shafts. Made well the stuff is bomb-proof and we are renowned for punishing our tools.