/ Broken crampons- catastrophic failure

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Cameron94 on 03 Feb 2013
Apologies if posted before but it's worth another post imo.

After recommending the black diamond sabretooth to a friend ealier tonight I noticed this post http://coldthistle.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/it-is-dead-horse-more-on-stainless.html on Dane's blog about BD stainless crampons shearing at the frame just behind the front points. There are several cases at least 5 that I now know of where this has happened. Follow the links at the bottom of his post for first hand reports of failure.

Always worth checking your gear before you go, even more so with stainless crampons it would appear!

LaMentalist on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to Cameron94:

Thanks for posting Cameron . I bought some BD Stainless Steel Stingers recently , they don't seem to be affected but I will be checking them everytime before I use them .
IainRUK - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to Cameron94: Not that runners will use these.. but this is what scares me about runners going out on the fells with nothing but some sort of running crampon.. microspike.. without an axe..

Just total ignorance that failures do happen.
xplorer on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to Cameron94:

To be fair..... There not really made for climbing ice.

Stainless steel is lighter and weaker than steel
craig1983 - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to Cameron94:

I've been doing a bit of digging regarding this over the weekend as I was considering Serac crampons and was advised against it.

see this in depth report from Black Diamond....

http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en-us/journal/climb//qc-lab-gear-doesnt-last-forever--crampons

Point is, the materials used in Grivel crampons for example, is no stronger or more durable than the stainless steel used by BD. The reason front points are failing is because horizontal points are not designed to be used for pure vertical ice climbing.

If you use equipment not designed for the job, then you run the risk of them failing.
In reply to xplorer:

> To be fair..... There not really made for climbing ice.

What, the Sabretooth? Of course they're designed for climbing ice.

SCC - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to craig1983:
> (In reply to Cameron94)
>
> I've been doing a bit of digging regarding this over the weekend as I was considering Serac crampons and was advised against it.
>
> see this in depth report from Black Diamond....
>
> http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en-us/journal/climb//qc-lab-gear-doesnt-last-forever--crampons
>
> Point is, the materials used in Grivel crampons for example, is no stronger or more durable than the stainless steel used by BD. The reason front points are failing is because horizontal points are not designed to be used for pure vertical ice climbing.
>
> If you use equipment not designed for the job, then you run the risk of them failing.

So, where are the reports of all the Grivel G12 (for example) crampons failing?
I've seen plenty of people using them for ice climbing in Rjukan.

I've only skimmed the BD link (I'll go back to it at lunchtime) but it seems to suggest that part the reasons the frames are breaking is down to them being married to less stiff boots that cause the frame to flex.

Maybe the reason these failures are being highlighted (and failures of non-stainless crampons aren't receiving as much attention) is that people are assuming that the failure is due to the Stainless material and therefor highlighting it?

Cheers,

Si
Captain Gear - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to Cameron94:

I'd take a lot of the stuff on that Cold Thistle site with a large pinch of salt. There is some good info on there, but there is a lot of egotistical bullshit. That Dane guy is a pretty unpleasant person in my expirence.
In reply to craig1983:
> The reason front points are failing is because horizontal points are not designed to be used for pure vertical ice climbing.

Again, that's simply not true. All-round 12 point crampons can work perfectly well, sometime better, on steep ice. Sometimes vertical monos are better, sometime not. But loads of people have climbed vertical ice with standard crampons, and plenty - including Will Gadd according something of his I recently read - still do when they are the right solution for the job.

I noted one interesting thing interesting in BD notes: "I dont think weve ever seen a vertically oriented front point crampon frame break". So just as an anecdote, I've done that! :) http://lightfromthenorth.blogspot.fi/2009/01/too-much-of-good-thing.html
timjones - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to craig1983:
> (In reply to Cameron94)
>
> I've been doing a bit of digging regarding this over the weekend as I was considering Serac crampons and was advised against it.
>
> see this in depth report from Black Diamond....
>
> http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en-us/journal/climb//qc-lab-gear-doesnt-last-forever--crampons
>
> Point is, the materials used in Grivel crampons for example, is no stronger or more durable than the stainless steel used by BD. The reason front points are failing is because horizontal points are not designed to be used for pure vertical ice climbing.
>
> If you use equipment not designed for the job, then you run the risk of them failing.


It seems to me that a lot of people used to climb steep ice with horizontal front points without this problem.


MG - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to timjones: Indeed. The Grivel website has G12s as "perfect for ice-falls and goulotes"

http://www.grivel.com/products/ice/crampons/synoptic
Rock Badger on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to Cameron94: One of main failures documented was an ex prototype sold on internet,, changes have been made to structure to add strength. The use of modern flexible boots seems to be a major influence. Still though, fuk that for confidence when your half way up a mountain. Anyone want to buy my seracs, still nice new and shiny, ill be keeping my g12's
Rock Badger on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to Cameron94: Also after they changed the structure they never recalled the old seracs, pretty shady i think. They are obviously aware that the mark 1 SS crampons were dangerous enough to change the design, but they never did anything about the old ones already out their, being relied on in some pretty extreme environments,,,,i personally think BD are a bunch of money grabbing shady f*cks not willing to recall a known faulty product.
Mr Fuller on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to Cameron94: I am not a metallurgist and know nothing about steel, but am slightly confused as to why Black Diamond stand by stainless steel as the best thing for crampons, while using chromoly steel for their picks (just like everyone else uses for their crampons). Surely the demands of picks and crampons are roughly the same? I've never used BD crampons but the stainless steel on some of the Viper head is extremely soft - the nuts are like swiss cheese if you try to get them off with a half-decent spanner set!
Simon4 - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to count:
> ... i personally think BD are a bunch of money grabbing shady f*cks not willing to recall a known faulty product

It sounds as though you have some sort of agenda, using loaded and emotive terminology like that. Most manufacturers produce products for money rather than give them away.

Reading through the Black Diamond testing review, it seems well argued and quite reasonable. What evidence do you have that their data is not correct, or that they have a higher than usual incidence of critical crampon failure?

needvert on 04 Feb 2013
A few months ago when looking for crampons, I wanted horizontal front points [for ice climbing, among other things].

BD's sabretooth's reputation was just too tarnished, G12s seem the better option and what I'm looking to buy.
Pete Potter - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to Cameron94: Whilst I have to agree that it does appear strange that BD have not be more proactive it has to be said that whatever line a manufacture takes appears to be wrong. In the past brands have recalled products in situations that can only be described as over cautious and then they get criticised for that so it does look that your damned if you do damned if you don't!
jogh on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to xplorer:
> (In reply to Cameron94)
>
> To be fair..... There not really made for climbing ice.
>
> Stainless steel is lighter and weaker than steel

Are you sure as steel becomes brittle in extreme cold and stainless steel does not hence the reason it is used on gas ships pipe work and the tran-siberian pipeline.
Rock Badger on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to Simon4: never said the data was not correct but they obviously new their was a weakness, changed the design, and did'nt bother to recall old ones,,,,
Rock Badger on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to Simon4: Really,,,manufacturers produce products for profit,,,well done.
quality manufacturers recall products that they themselves deem to be not safe enough.
Timmd on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to Pete Potter:
> (In reply to Cameron94) Whilst I have to agree that it does appear strange that BD have not be more proactive it has to be said that whatever line a manufacture takes appears to be wrong. In the past brands have recalled products in situations that can only be described as over cautious and then they get criticised for that so it does look that your damned if you do damned if you don't!

For me i'd much rather manufacturers were over cautious, i'd call it unreasonable if people were critical like that.
Frank4short - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to Cameron94: re: the stainless v regular steel arguments some have posted up the thread. This is just nonsense saying stainless isn't as hard/strong as regular steel. As ultimately it comes down the the exact alloys involved. Certain stainless alloys will not be as strong, hard or as resistant elastic deformation as some regular steels. Though the same will also happen in reverse. Broadly saying stainless is inferior is a nonsense statement as it's down the specific alloys involved.
needvert on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to Frank4short:

On the materials side, I think people often overlook that the geometry is as important as the material, and that strength is a combination of the two.

Simple example, if you build two beams strong enough to support a load of a tonne over a span of 5m, one of balsa wood and one of steel, which is stronger?
edinburgh_man on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to Cameron94:

Black Diamond recently published their return / failure rates for Stainless Steel crampons compared with their previous versions using Chromolly Steel: if you believe their stats, they've actually had less failures / returns of the Stainless Steel than of the Chromolly.

I've seen Petzl Lynx (vertically aligned front points + chromolly steel) fail.

I've also know 2 people who's Grivel G20's (again vertically aligned front points + chromolly steel) failed on the Croz Spur (one on the ascent, one on the descent): http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=115582


As, Captain Gear says - I'd take what you read on Cold Thistle with a pinch of salt. It is just opinion.

jonnie3430 - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to craig1983)
>
> I noted one interesting thing interesting in BD notes: "I dont think weve ever seen a vertically oriented front point crampon frame break". So just as an anecdote, I've done that! :) http://lightfromthenorth.blogspot.fi/2009/01/too-much-of-good-thing.html

I've broken Grivel G14s in the frame on a vertical ice route, which have vertical front points.

I had a go at Dane on here over his comments on the crampon failures (mainly because I had just bought a pair of Seracs and wanted the confidence to use them.) I though the initial "report," he made of the crampon failures was rather spicy (one crampon that failed was used for walking on flat ice with bendy boots,) and seemed to be more interested in bashing BD (and then accused me of working for them.)

I have however just checked my Seracs(the ones I used this weekend, 18 routes in them this winter,) before doing a bit more Dane bashing and have found cracks on both in the place highlighted in the article.

My apologies to Dane and my thanks for this post, I would not have checked my crampons without it. My current practise of sparsely (but safely, I think,) protecting easy routes did not take into account gear failure and I could have seriously hurt myself. Right, where is BDs email address....
In reply to jonnie3430:
> have found cracks on both in the place highlighted in the article.

Oh dear, that sounds bad. I have absolutely no axe to grind (or handfile) here, and can't really see why either Dane would be making something up like this (I guess he's reporting what others have found) but neither do I think BD would be covering anything up - most companies have recalls sooner or later - I think most of us understand that. No one wants to design and sell anything dangerous, but errors can happen, and the implications of not recalling are surely much more serious than doing so. It's an odd situation.
Frank4short - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to needvert:

> Simple example, if you build two beams strong enough to support a load of a tonne over a span of 5m, one of balsa wood and one of steel, which is stronger?

Eh neither, using solely the parameters you've chosen.
jonnie3430 - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to jonnie3430)
> [...]
>
> neither do I think BD would be covering anything up - most companies have recalls sooner or later -

Neither did I, I hadn't seen Danes blog post that inspired this thread, only the one based on the initial three failures he heard about and reported (he pulled the thread,) so I had no knowledge of the subsequent 15 failures of the crampons. Having found that my crampons have also fractures through them I would now be very interested to know what BD are doing and sincerely hope they are not covering up, if they are I will not be shopping there again.
More-On - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to jonnie3430:
> (In reply to TobyA)
> [...]
>

> I have however just checked my Seracs and have found cracks on both in the place highlighted in the article.

Quick question - how old are your Seracs? Are they like the first gen Sabretooth style or a 'beefed up' version?

A second gen Sabretooth owner who is now getting nervous...
jonnie3430 - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to More-On:
> (In reply to jonnie3430)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> Quick question - how old are your Seracs? Are they like the first gen Sabretooth style or a 'beefed up' version?
>
> A second gen Sabretooth owner who is now getting nervous...

In the post the OP linked to is this "And the most recent faulty crampons are all the reinforced 2nd gen. versions."

Mine are 1st gen Seracs.
Nath93 - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to Cameron94: Seems to me that BD aren't actually all that fussed about their products breaking in the field. Looks like they would rather tell us what we already know, that all gear eventually gives out, rather than supply people with an up to date model and recall the older ones. Or give people a refund.

Pretty poor crack to be honest, much more expected from a company like that.
More-On - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to jonnie3430: Thanks Jonnie. I had noted the text in the link and was just keen to see how many second gen models were failing. Hopefully my low grade bimbling won't cause a problem...
Big Lee - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to craig1983:

Just read the above BD link. To quote BD:

"Overall, we tested hundreds of crampons, and continue to test as new styles and various performance characteristics adjustments are developed."

But if we look at the fatigue graghs and see that they have only published the results of between 3 to 5 crampons for each model. Suspicious? Looks like nothing but advertising to me.
Solaris - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to jonnie3430)
> [...]
>
> ... but neither do I think BD would be covering anything up - most companies have recalls sooner or later - I think most of us understand that. No one wants to design and sell anything dangerous, but errors can happen, and the implications of not recalling are surely much more serious than doing so.

I've no axe to grind either, but I can't believe that BD don't keep the tragic circumstances of their own birth out of the (nearly catastrophic) ruins of Chouinard in mind.

Rock Badger on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to jonnie3430: See they should have been recalled, they knew they were flawed (enough to change design). BD obviously dont care about peoples safety/lives. Ill never buy another BD product, full stop
Misha - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to craig1983:
Erm, what do you think they used on the FA of a lot of the classic hard ice routes? Vertical points are quite recent!
Misha - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to count
They might just have been improving a design that was already up to standards. I'm sure any sensible manufacturer would recall an unsafe product to avoid the risk of bring sued. If they're failing with insufficiently rigid boots, that's not the crsmpons' fault. But I think neither of us has the full details to be able to conclude.
needvert on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to Frank4short:

:)

By similar logic, if stainless steel is weaker, BD would design to compensate for it.

Of course this all presumes BD is putting sufficient resources into design.
Cameron94 on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to Cameron94: Just to add I wasn't bashing B-D in anyway, I use plenty of their kit. I might inspect it more often now but I still trust it. However I won't be using any of their crampons in the foreseeable future unless they change something.

Has anyone noticed a recent spate of these going on the FS forum? lol
Nath93 - on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to count: My harness and helmet are both BD and have great build quality and are just really good bits of kit. Wouldn't go far as saying i'd never buy another one of their products, plenty people use the stuff and I think we'd know about it if widespread malfunctions were taking place on a huge scale.

I might even be persuaded into buying a pair of their gloves for next season..
Rock Badger on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to Nath93: Got some crampons going cheap if you want :) ye i believe they make some quality products, im just pissed cause i have a pair of seracs that i now dont want
Pete Potter - on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to Nath93: I think all of this needs to be looked at in the correct context. BD are an American company who get their kit made in the cheapest possible place and have just dumped their UK distributor which will result in job losses so if the kit is good then buy it but do not waist any emotions over the brand as I feel they are only interested in income.
Nath93 - on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to count: That's fair enough man, i'd be pissed off too. In fact i was half way through the purchase of a pair of Seracs when I got a mail from the OP with CT's blog post.

I've just bought a pair of G12's unfortunately...
Nath93 - on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to Pete Potter: I realise that and don't get me wrong, it pisses me off that they are just fobbing people off with excuses who have broken crampons, but I don't think its fair to slate all their gear and keep them off limits for future products.

Its all got to pass a certain test and surely that brings us into a bigger picture about how much demand is put on a pair of crampons (or any gear really) before they are deemed safe for sale ?
Garbhanach - on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to Cameron94: Yes Having purchased a pair of Scarpa Jorrases this winter and finding the Grivel G12 newmatics I had did not have much front points on these boots I had a look at the Black Diamond Sabertooth crampons but having seen the reports of BD stainless steel crampon failure I was put off.
One of the posters above mentioned Coldthisle's review was only an opinion however the guy works with metals in his trade as well as being climber so I thought his was quite a good opinion and review which also appears to be what Grivel say about chromolly steel being better.

If your giving any crampon abuse on rock then chromolly and stainlees steel will probably break however there does appear to be a lot of Black Diamond failures and I wouldn't purchase them when they are failing with normal use.

http://coldthistle.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/crampon-durability-stainless-or.html

http://www.grivel.com/company/inox_vs_nicromo

http://alpenglowsports.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/black-diamond-sabretooth-crampon-failure/

http://rafalandronowski.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/broke-my-crampons/

http://www.grivel.com/company/metalli/interview_emilio_ramous.pdf
duncan - on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to Pete Potter:


Black Diamond are now owned by Warren Kanders. Kanders made his money from his company Armor Holdings. Armor were fined 10 million for bribing a UN official: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-14148635

And settled out of court over accusations they knowingly sold defective body armour: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7658104.stm

Kanders used his political connections and lobbying to ensure that Armor were the only company permitted to armour US army Humvees, resulting in a shortage of said vehicles and, according to the NY Times, more casualties as a result: http://www.freewilliamsburg.com/archives/2005/06/

Possibly not the kind of person you'd want heading a climbing equipment company.


Solaris - on 06 Feb 2013
In reply to duncan:

Couldn't believe this at first, but it seems you are right:
http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110121005811/en/Clarus-Corporation-Black-Diamond
http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/people/person.asp?personId=352771&ticker=BDE

Not sure what to make of this. For example, Metcalf who has run the company pretty successfully is still CEO; what impact on the day-to-day running of the business is Kanders likely to have?

And how many other gear manufacturers have dodgy connections?

Anyway, back on topic...
Misha - on 06 Feb 2013
In reply to duncan:
No, they are a plc lited on Nasdaq. The Kanders guy is chairman and has a minority shareholding. http://www.nasdaq.com/symbol/bde/ownership-summary#.URG8DXwgGSM
coldwill - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to Cameron94: just for the record my friend fractured his the other month with very little use. Here's a link to a detailed thread on g sport:
http://www.gravsports-ice.com/icethreads/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=8972&page=all
coldwill - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to coldwill: and another friend broke another bd pick on Saturday but that a whole different thread...
Bradders - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to LaMentalist: On the otherhand i have some black diamond sabertooth crampons i have really abused on both rock and ice. There is not much more than 1cm of the points left, yet after checking them out they haven't got any cracks at all. Maybe ive just been lucky
Cameron94 on 08 Feb 2013
In reply to Bradders: Are they the 1st gen or 2nd?

I think there's a diffrence in the quality between the two but personally I wouldn't be too keen on using either now.
fultonville - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Cameron94: Broke the front points on my M10's a couple seasons back while on Polar Circus Canada. Replacement points were too expensive so I bought a pair of SS Cyborgs. I inspect them after every use and have had no issues with them. So far :-) As far as Dane and his website cold thistle he's not a bad guy and I know from climbing with him he's still got 'game'. Also he's been offered ad revenue but regularly turns it down as all his post are his opinion. I repeat, his opinion. You don't like? Start your own site.
Bradders - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Cameron94:
I think they are 1st gen, but not totally sure. Bought in 2009.
Personally i wouldn't get them again either, however i'm still using them on and off as a spare crampon/mountaineering crampon, and have had no problems with them.
Thankfully i was just lucky though.

Bradders
Jon Bracey - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Garbhanach:
It's interesting reading the links you posted, especially the ones on the Grivel website. Grivel should be a bit more careful though, as they have had plenty of issues themselves with catastrophic crampon failure!
jonnie3430 - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to count:
> (In reply to jonnie3430) See they should have been recalled, they knew they were flawed (enough to change design). BD obviously dont care about peoples safety/lives. Ill never buy another BD product, full stop

Stop the bus, mine were examined by First Ascent and they have told me that what I thought were cracks are scratches, (in the place of the cracks in Danes pics,) they have returned them, though I won't have a chance to have a look at them for a few months.

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