The first thing I noticed about the Darts is that there is basically nothing to them. But that is most certainly a good thing. They weigh less for starters and there's no messing around with the meccano set, nuts and bolts that I've had to deal with on many other technical crampons. I have used them for a good chunk of winter outings now and they do the job perfectly. From steep ice in the Alps to Scottish mixed, they've definitely been through the mill. So what's the verdict?
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The Darts are a two-piece semi-rigid crampon. They are designed on a horizontal structure which places them closer to the sole of your boots thus making them feel more precise. I wore them with La Sportiva's lightweight Trango Extreme Evo GTX boots and this was perfect in terms of boot/crampon compatibility. The combination of a light boot with a light, horizontally structured crampon made climbing ice and mixed ground feel like I was wearing rock shoes. With the added bonus of mono-points it really did feel that good!
The Darts were also very easy to adjust and the Leverlock system which my test pair had, offered a very secure fit. Although it did look a little scary without any strap attachment on the toe bail! When walking the crampons also felt comfortable and secure and due to the semi-rigid design, not too arduous. They didn't ball up with snow either, even though I had not fitted an anti-ball plate (actually according to Lyon Equipment Petzl don't make one for these anyhow!) and they felt very stable when descending whilst facing down hill due to the angle of the points and the teeth.
With the Darts less is definitely more
The only downside that I can see with these is that you can't change or replace the front points, but I never really want to do this as I like monos for everything. Should the front points wear out you can actually buy replacement sections (the whole front section, not just the points) so you don't actually have to replace the whole crampons. I only tried the darts on my La Sportiva boots so I'm not sure about fit/compatibility with other boots but you can definitely adjust them to fit the more asymmetric shapes. However with this it is probably worth trying to fit them to your boots in the shop before you buy them.
Mono-points: what's the point?
I've used mono-point crampons for a while now. Previously I've had modular crampons that allow you to swap between one point or two depending on what terrain you are climbing. But I soon realised that swapping was actually a pain in the neck and for me it just didn't seem necessary. Mono-points were streets ahead on mixed ground and on ice they were certainly no worse than having two. In fact I personally prefer monos on ice as well. So what are the advantages? Well, firstly on mixed ground you can stand more securely on small edges as there is none of the rocking around that you get with two points. You can precisely place a mono and all that happens when you move around is that it pivots a little bit. This then enables you to execute "drop-knees" and "back-steps." You also have the added bonus that you can stick the single point into narrow icy cracks. On ice the benefits are the same so you can climb steep pillars more smoothly and on thin and brittle ice there is less chance of shattering (as long as your points are sharp) as you're only making one hole. You can even stand in the holes that you have made with your picks! Finally, keeping your heels low enables the secondary points to bite which means you get a stable "tripod" effect in the ice.
What Petzl say
Petzl Dart Crampons
The DART is the crampon for extreme mixed and ice climbing. The mono-point is designed to displace less ice and make for precise placements on micro-edges. The third row of points are angled towards the rear for hooking in steep terrain or around ice columns. Ultra-lightweight. Add the optional EPERON heel spur assembly for even more hooking possibilities.
Available in two types of binding systems:
Testing the Darts on Les Formes Du Chaos, Ceillac
© John Shepherd
I really like the Darts. They are light and precise, comfortable and secure when walking and simple to adjust. For me mono-points are superior to dual points and these crampons would be a great choice for the keen winter climber whether they be into Scottish mixed, Alpine ice or barmy upside-down dry-tooling! Just add the optional Eperon heel spur for the latter!Price: £125
Weight: 824 grams
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