/ Grivel G12 regulation spring failure

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petestack - on 01 Feb 2009
To anyone about to read this, it sounds impossible, but it happened...

Basically, a brand new G12 crampon came apart halfway up Ben Nevis today (1 February) because the 'regulation spring' (the sprung plate with plunger which locks the adjustment bar to back section) simply disappeared! I was soloing up a short pitch of Grade II/III ice, looked down, saw the rear points hanging loose and simply couldn't believe my eyes when I realised what had happened...

Having double-checked the fit of the unaffected crampon, it appears that what happened (losing this spring with crampons attached to the boot) is basically impossible unless it was faulty to start with, in which case the plunger could conceivably have 'popped' between the sole cleats and the whole spring slid out backwards as the crampons started to separate. But, unfortunately (despite a thorough search by my partner and me), we were unable to locate the lost part to return for inspection.

This was the first real outing for this pair of crampons apart from a two-hour session at the Ice Factor on Tuesday night (27 January), at which they appeared to perform impeccably.

Clearly, this was a potentially serious situation, so I've already reported it to the supplier and am also likely to contacting Grivel about it. On which note, the purpose of this post is really two-fold:

1. To ask if this has ever happened to anyone here?
2. To warn you that it *can* happen!
Burns - on 01 Feb 2009
In reply to petestack:

Yeah, it happened to me last year. The G12's in question were bought from a chap on here and had plenty of use. See here:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=282673&v=1#x4190775
petestack - on 01 Feb 2009
In reply to Burns:

OK, thanks. But mine were brand new (bought this January)!
Burns - on 01 Feb 2009
In reply to petestack:

If they have the old style spring adjusters (old stock/ batch?) then they will probably behave the same way. What binding?
JamesA - on 01 Feb 2009
In reply to petestack:
This has just reminded me of a bloke I was chatting to on the top of Ben Nevis who had cuts on his face, a few weeks ago. He'd taken a fall in a gully, and described exactly the same thing as you - though at the time I assumed it was just user error. I'm off to check my G12's now while I think about it.
petestack - on 01 Feb 2009
In reply to Burns:
> If they have the old style spring adjusters (old stock/ batch?) then they will probably behave the same way.

Have read your thread carefully, but would say the springs on mine are pretty stiff and I'll be surprised if it's the same problem.

> What binding?

New-Matic, but doubt it's relevant.
beh on 01 Feb 2009
In reply to petestack:Similar thing happened to a guy I was with in Rjukan recently, cept was a brand new pair of G14s, first day descending into lower gorge the sprung regulation bit fell off somewhere and the crampons separated. Couldn't figure out why it would happen either.

Luckily wasn't in a serious position and not much of a inconvenience either as able to sort a temp fix using a bolt before getting a replacement part from Intersport a couple days later.

Martin W on 01 Feb 2009
In reply to beh: I'd actually call the bolt a permanent fix. I always set the length on my G12s (when I had them) with a bolt rather than relying on the spring, and I plan to do the same with my G14s.

I suspect it could be ice getting in to the bits that hold the spring in place that is forcing it loose. Probably more likely if the crampon is flexing under the boot sole a bit, either because it doesn't fit quite perfectly, or because the boot is flexing just a tad too much.
minstrel - on 01 Feb 2009
In reply to petestack: It happened to me with a set of G12 and vegas descending in the cairngorms and not in a difficult situation.
I have nepals and the same thing can happen.
I will try and explain.
I have size 48 boots with long bars and the spring clip sits at the forward edge of the heel unit.
The sole tread pattern extends around the edge of the heel unit leaving a U shape with a small cross section towards the front.
The spring clip sits in this U shape with no section of sole above it.
If you stand on a rock/ice it can push the pin upwards and because there is no sole above it it pops out.
I have now bolted them in the channel further back which is under the small cross section of sole.

hope this helps

simon
Kimberley on 01 Feb 2009
In reply to petestack:

Yes, experienced the same problem with brand new pair last week. Came off several times and had to resort to duck taping the spring down. Like Simon the boots were large size - unsure how relevant this is? John
petestack - on 01 Feb 2009
In reply to Martin W:
> I'd actually call the bolt a permanent fix. I always set the length on my G12s (when I had them) with a bolt rather than relying on the spring, and I plan to do the same with my G14s.

Bolting is certainly a solution I'm seriously considering, but not touching anything before I've heard from suppliers/Grivel.

> I suspect it could be ice getting in to the bits that hold the spring in place that is forcing it loose.

Possible, but unlikely considering I'd only walked 20 or 30 metres and climbed another 5 or so since donning crampons and gearing up.

> Probably more likely if the crampon is flexing under the boot sole a bit, either because it doesn't fit quite perfectly, or because the boot is flexing just a tad too much.

Again unlikely, because the G12s fit my Nepal Extremes pretty well and the boots aren't noted for flexing...
petestack - on 01 Feb 2009
In reply to Kimberley:
> Like Simon the boots were large size - unsure how relevant this is?

Dunno (food for thought?), but mine are size 46 with standard G12 bar.

chris_B - on 02 Feb 2009
In reply to petestack:

This happened to me with a new set of G14's over New Year, it was on Point Five Gully where it happened so I might have spoken to you JamesA - I didn't fall off but did have cuts on my face from a block of ice that had hit me just before the crampon fell off.

I compared the remaining spring clip with another older crampon and concluded it happened because the pin on the spring clip wasn't long enough. I've replaced it with a bolt now which is a much more confidence-inspiring option! I've been planning to get in touch with Grivel/the importers but haven't got round to it yet.
CurlyStevo - on 02 Feb 2009
In reply to petestack:
Its a well known problem and you don't need the crampon to be faulty for it to occur something pushes the pin up from the bottom and it travels between the tread on your boots. That said I've not had a problem with 3 seasons of use of G14 and nepal extremes....
Ron Walker - on 02 Feb 2009
In reply to petestack:

I've not had this problem myself and I've been using them since they came out.
I've seen it happen several times to other generally inexperienced nervous walkers and climbers.
In the past when it happened to a couple of my clients using our hire crampons it had been due to them forcing and bending the spring clip which then no longer fitted as securely - it wasn't me Guv!
One of the clients also managed to break an ice axe and helmet buckle at the same time and she was only little...!!!
A few other times I've noticed the adjustment bar can move if people quickly force open the crampons and shock load the extension bar - if you notice your adjustment has changed it's probably been caused by this.
To avoid the problem if you have only one pair of boots you se the crampons with use the nut and bolt supplied - I don't but it may put your mind at ease.

Cheers Ron
Sam Hawkins - on 02 Feb 2009
In reply to petestack: I had exactly this problem with my G14s last weekend - climbing Salamander in Hells Lum, I suddenly found my right crampon in two. Luckily the retaining strap had kept both halves on my foot, and I was able to cut a ledge hanging off one axe, and put the crampon back together. Thoroughly terrifying. I've made a temporary fix with duck tape. They're set up with the bar reversed for small boots. This seems to be a major design flaw, potentially lethal.
Ron Walker - on 02 Feb 2009
In reply to Kimberley:

The only time I've seen that happen is when the spring has been bent with excessive force (and is permanently deformed), crampons on the wrong foot or if you don't have the long extension bar on UK size 10/11 boots or more.
Are your boots at least B2 rated? Flexible boots need the flexible extension bar and the Grivel New Classic bindings. Fexible walking 2/3 season boots are not designed for continuous use on steep hard snow or ice and will fail.
I'd like to say that the shops will offer you good advice on crampon boot compatibility and fitting but unfortunately this is not the case unless you go to a specialist independent climbing shop in a mountain area - and even then!
petestack - on 02 Feb 2009
In reply to Ron Walker:
> I've seen it happen several times to other generally inexperienced nervous walkers and climbers.

Interesting observation, but I'm not new to the sport...

> In the past when it happened to a couple of my clients using our hire crampons it had been due to them forcing and bending the spring clip which then no longer fitted as securely - it wasn't me Guv!

Again, no doubt that happens, but I'm talking brand new, unforced crampons.

> A few other times I've noticed the adjustment bar can move if people quickly force open the crampons and shock load the extension bar - if you notice your adjustment has changed it's probably been caused by this.

(No forcing here.)

> To avoid the problem if you have only one pair of boots you se the crampons with use the nut and bolt supplied - I don't but it may put your mind at ease.

Think I'm going to bolt them now, but didn't get any bolts with them (have asked the supplier for new spring *and* nuts/bolts).
oui oui on 02 Feb 2009 - 194.176.125.6 whois?
In reply to petestack:

I think I know what can cause this....

The pin that pops through the hole in the adjuster bar can partially locate Ė itís my understanding the fatter part of the locating pin has to sit cleanly on the adjuster bar, even if the thin part of the pin has engaged with the adjuster bar. Itís possible for the fat part of the pin to rest on the body metal of the crampon and for the pin to engage the adjuster bar, meaning the spring hasnít full sprung shut.

This situation describes how my G12s were set up my a shop. I was never really happy with the way it looked and one day I had to readjust my crampons to fit another pair of boots, and whilst doing this the pin located properly and I realised Iíd been climbing with crampons that had been incorrectly set-up(!?!).

Itís easier to explain with a photo of the two ways you can set up the crampon.
petestack - on 02 Feb 2009
In reply to Sam Hawkins:
> Luckily the retaining strap had kept both halves on my foot, and I was able to cut a ledge hanging off one axe, and put the crampon back together.

Looks like you didn't actually lose the spring plate, then?

> Thoroughly terrifying.

Agreed. On which note at least I was lucky enough to be in a comparatively unserious situation.

ads.ukclimbing.com
petestack - on 02 Feb 2009
In reply to oui oui:
> The pin that pops through the hole in the adjuster bar can partially locate Ė itís my understanding the fatter part of the locating pin has to sit cleanly on the adjuster bar, even if the thin part of the pin has engaged with the adjuster bar. Itís possible for the fat part of the pin to rest on the body metal of the crampon and for the pin to engage the adjuster bar, meaning the spring hasnít full sprung shut.

Appreciate all of this, but I'm sure they were set up correctly (I did it myself!)...
petestack - on 02 Feb 2009
In reply to Ron Walker:
> or if you don't have the long extension bar on UK size 10/11 boots or more.

Another interesting observation, Ron, so hoping you can clarify the problem here?
Ron Walker - on 02 Feb 2009
In reply to petestack:

We've got over twenty pairs of the Grivel crampons and so over the past seven years any problems with fitting to a large selection of sizes and type of boots quickly come to light.
The larger and smaller sized boots tend to have more problems in fitting than the midsized. This is more apparent in the lighter and more flexible boots.
Some alpine style boots such as the old Salomon Pro Rock and Scarpa Charmoz are more likely to fail in the smaller sizes due to fitting and others in the larger sizes due to more flex and leverage. There used to be a problem with the heel width fouling the heel clip on some heavy weight Sportiva boots. (BTW I don't think the Charmoz is a good winter boot despite some magazines recommending it for winter walking never mind winter climbing. It's a good easy summer alpine approach boot though)
What's really needed is a selection of sizes but that is obviously uneconomical at either side of the size range.
Speak with The Mountain Boot Company (Scarpa Grivel inporters) if you have any concerns - they are very helpfull.

Cheers Ron
oui oui on 02 Feb 2009 - 194.176.125.6 whois?
In reply to petestack:

I asked two UIAGM guides what they thought, and whilst they agreed with me, it didn't look *quite* right, they both thought they were set-up correctly. They definitely didn't look like they were going to fall apart.

What I'm trying to say is, it's possible to have crampons that look like they've been set-up correctly (even to an experts eye), yet they're not.

I used to own Camp Puma crampons, and ever since their recall, I've been ultra critical of what spikes I put on my feet. Trying to manually spring things off my feet is something I try, and with the locating pin fully home, the only thing I might worry about with my G12s is the toe bail.

From what I remember, it's only an issue when you use one or two holes of the adjuster bar. What type / size boots were you wearing?
Ron Walker - on 02 Feb 2009
In reply to oui oui:

Out of interest what size and what type of boots did you have on and are they fairly worn. My partner had a problem with size 38 summer alpine boots once on a sodden glacier.
Earlier this season I was using an old pair of knackered Pro Ices and noticed the severe wear on the toe rubber meant the front posts didn't locate as well as they should - they stayed on OK on mixed but I had to take more care with the fitting.
BTW the new antbot plates foul the adjustment bar when packing so you need to be careful when extending them as they catch. I've never used the corrugated sleeve on any crampons as it seems a waste of time and affects the ease of adjustment so potentially a problem.
CurlyStevo - on 02 Feb 2009
In reply to Ron Walker:
whats just stopping a rock pushing the pin back up between the tread of your boots?

I believe grivel recommend replacing the clip with a bolt for this reason
petestack - on 02 Feb 2009
In reply to oui oui:
> What I'm trying to say is, it's possible to have crampons that look like they've been set-up correctly (even to an experts eye), yet they're not.

Impossible to check now with the spring lost somewhere up the Ben, but that sounds like a compelling argument for a change of design!

> From what I remember, it's only an issue when you use one or two holes of the adjuster bar. What type / size boots were you wearing?

Sportiva Nepal Extremes, size 46, with New-Matic G12s adjusted to the fourth hole from the end (the one between those stamped 10 and 12), at which the adjustment bar still reaches to within a few mm of the heel end of the spring clip. They're a good, snug fit like this and stay on the boot even after slackening the yellow heel clip.

Also note my previous question (referencing Grivel's specification for sizes 36Ė47) about standard/long bars at:
http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=336283

Think I possibly had the means to effect a fix on the hill because I had (and had forgotten about) the corresponding nuts and bolts (but no screwdriver or spanner) from my DMM crampons in a small zip compartment of my crampon bag and, having checked them for gauge right now, think I could have used them if I could have done them up!
Snorkers on 02 Feb 2009 - 192.135.77.104 whois?
Mine popped loose a couple of times, the first time I used them, but not since. Now that I'm happy with the sizing, I'll probably put the bolt in.
Sam Hawkins - on 03 Feb 2009
In reply to petestack: I didn't lose the spring bar thanfully. I'm pretty sure they were set up correctly, and they are a snug fit with the boots (Nepal Extremes).

The only explanation I could think of was that spring bar got pushed out by a build up of ice in between the sole and the crampon. Probably quite rare, its the first time it has happened to me, but I'll still be swapping it for a bolt as soon as I can.
m0unt41n on 03 Feb 2009
In reply to minstrel: Had exactly the same with size 49 Millet Everest, one of the G12 dropped off. This was with a long extender and long straps. Problem is it was on the last hole.
Now replaced with XL version which is the old version of the G12 and nut and bolt.
petestack - on 09 Feb 2009
In reply to petestack:
> Bolting is certainly a solution I'm seriously considering, but not touching anything before I've heard from suppliers/Grivel.

Had an email a week ago from suppliers requesting return of crampons, but declined to send the whole lot back in the meantime when the offending part has been lost and there's nothing to be learned from inspecting the rest. So requested replacement spring and nuts/bolts, but still waiting for an answer.

Bolted them together with the bolts and nuts from my DMM Aiguilles for this weekend, and have now contacted the Mountain Boot Company direct in the hope of getting what I want.

Have to say that this part of the Aiguilles appears to be better designed, with the corresponding spring plate both riveted to the heel section and permitting bolting (through a more substantial steel bar) without removing said adjuster where bolting the G12s necessitates removing the plate, bolting through a much slimmer bar and putting the length 'half a hole' out of adjustment with what you had with the spring in place. But, since I hate the webbing toe bail straps on my Aiguilles and DMM told me they couldn't retro-fit the new plastic toe bail to the older model, I suppose the obvious solution with hindsight might have been to buy a new pair of Aiguilles with the new toe bail (which I'm half wishing I'd done now)... :-/
BP - on 09 Feb 2009
In reply to petestack:

It has happened to me with G14s on grade 3 ice. I now zip tie and tape the spring. Seems ok if you do that. I wondered if it was due to the configuration of the Vibram sole? Sportiva Nepals. Never happened with Koflachs. What are your boots?
petestack - on 10 Feb 2009
In reply to BP:
> It has happened to me with G14s on grade 3 ice. I now zip tie and tape the spring. Seems ok if you do that.

Had thought of cable-tying the springs on so you couldn't lose them, but tying them shut's maybe a better idea, so somebody (supplier/importer) better come up with that replacement spring in case I decide to go that way...

> I wondered if it was due to the configuration of the Vibram sole? Sportiva Nepals. Never happened with Koflachs. What are your boots?

See above (a few posts back):
'Sportiva Nepal Extremes, size 46, with New-Matic G12s adjusted to the fourth hole from the end (the one between those stamped 10 and 12), at which the adjustment bar still reaches to within a few mm of the heel end of the spring clip. They're a good, snug fit like this and stay on the boot even after slackening the yellow heel clip.'

The annoying thing is that the fit was pretty well perfect like that whereas the half hole's difference in adjustment necessary to bolt them is enough to let them drop off the boot once you release the heel clip (and it's really too tight half a hole the other way). So tying the springs shut sounds like a real possibility, and I'd definitely prefer the G12s to the Aiguilles if that's a reliable solution.
petestack - on 10 Feb 2009
In reply to petestack:
> have now contacted the Mountain Boot Company direct in the hope of getting what I want.

For the record, got a prompt and positive response there (email timed 09:50 this morning), they're sending me the bits I need and referring my account of the incident to Grivel. :-)
JohnDaly - on 10 Feb 2009
There was a post about this happening around 3 years ago. I remember it since I had my G12s fall apart several times. It seemed to coccur when walking over hard icy/rocky ground. I discovered that it was possible to force the spring clip undone with the boot attached to the crampon. I've since noticed that Grivel have lengthened the pin on the clip but clearly this hasn't solved the issue. Mine are now securely bolted using a 5mm stainless steel nut and bolt.
JohnDaly - on 10 Feb 2009
An addition to my previous post.
My G12 crampons fell off in February 2005 several times despite adjusting them carefully after each 'failure'
Ceri Stewart was the person who posted about this in I believe 2005. She wrote:
"me and boyfriend have both had the problem that the clip that you use to adjust the length of the crampon can be knocked open when walking, allowing the crampons to get longer and fall off. this can be cured by replacing the clip with a bolt"

I emailed her to ask what her solution was and she replied:
"i did consider using a simple nut and bolt- i already have one of these through the bar at the front end to shorten the crampons to fit my boots, so it should be fine. However, in the end, i went for wrapping the clip in duck tape- which seems to have done the job!"

I also emailed Grivel to ask their advice and as to whether they were aware of the problem but never did receive a reply.

At the time I wrote:
'My theory is that ice builds up on top of the anti balling plate and then when you put your foot down it forces the ice against the catch and pushes it upwards. With the boot on the crampon, it is possible to force the catch up with a screwdriver and release it. Of course this couldn't happen if the catch was not hanging over the end of the adjustment bar.'
This theory is consistent with the posts above that seem to imply it is only a problem with larger boot sizes. Although Ceri had small feet she had shortened the crampon which is effectively the same situation as with a larger boot.
My solution to the issue was to replace the clip with a nut and bolt in order to ensure the integrity of the crampon when in use particularly when climbing. I used an A2 stainless steel M5 set screw and locking nut. I always carry an allen key with me in case it ever needs tightening or adjusting. I used stainless steel as it is not prone to brittle fracture at low temperatures and tested the bolts for shear strength with a very large hammer. I only suceeded in bendng them but not shearing them off.

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