Generally speaking, we don't respond to forum threads and debates on our equipment, as the supplier, we always feel it's difficult to appear objective. As the old saying goes, you can't please all of the people all of the time but when a negative review or response appears there has always been a well-balanced response from our many satisfied customers that leaves us in a good light. On this occasion, however, there were a number of points raised that we felt UKC users (and reviewers) may be interested to read a more in depth response to.
We are always concerned if a climber has a poor experience with the gear we sell and will always go the extra mile to find a solution for them. In this case, it seems like the individual borrowed the Nuptse's and didn't get on well with them, but it is impossible to tell how well the crampons were fitted, how compatible they were with his boots or the level of experience or ability of the climber in question. With so many variables it is hard to offer a meaningful response other than that his finding the crampons to be “scarily inadequate” was a purely personal experience as highlighted by the responses from other forum users.
We were far more disturbed by the following comment describing the Nuptse's as “Fisher Price”. This is a grossly misinformed comment, the Nuptse's may be inexpensive but they are certainly not toys! Perhaps the fact that we have chosen a non-traditional colour has sparked this reaction, but from a technical, engineering and materials perspective they are a very high quality product.
The Climbing Technology Nuptse 12 point crampon is aimed at general mountaineering and easier climbing. The configuration and length of its points lend itself to this perfectly. Having used this product ourselves over two winters in variable conditions in Wales, Scotland and the Lake District – we can't fault them. Are we impartial? No, we're the distributors but climbing shop buyers are not easily impressed and are probably about as impartial as you can get. We currently sell Climbing Technology through two of the best multiple specialist retailers in the country, Cotswolds & Tiso's. These companies have two of the most respected and experienced climbing buyers in our trade, if a product doesn't stack up in any way it doesn't get ranged.
In addition to these retailers we currently sell through three of the oldest and most prestigious independent climbing shops in the UK: Needlesports, Joe Browns and The Outdoor Shop. These shops are owned and run by individuals that are among the most experienced climbing buyers in Europe and all very accomplished and experienced end users. Just like us, they are legally responsible for what they sell and just like you, they don't part with their hard earned cash without being absolutely sure about the quality of the equipment they are buying.
Everyone of these shops prides itself on offering high quality advice about fitting crampons and the compatibility to any given boot. The differences between crampons and boots may be very subtle and can even change with boot size within the same style, but a good fit is critical. That's why when you go to a quality shop you will be shown a variety of makes and models and price may become a secondary consideration. Climbing Technology crampons are less expensive than many others; they have chosen to position themselves in this category and are able to be very competitive due to their material sourcing, and simplicity of design. They don't currently try to compete with the more technical models in the market place.
A later comment in the thread was regarding the lack of any negative reviews on climbing gear as if there was some conspiracy. This is a very interesting observation. Actually the answer is really very simple. There isn't really any bad gear. Since the introduction of CE marking and PPE regulations climbing gear has simply got better and better. While there are clearly differences in finish, cosmetics, and approaches to given problems, any gear you buy is up to a minimum standard and perhaps we take that for granted. Arguably some equipment is better in given situations that they may have been specifically designed for, but there really hasn't been any bad climbing equipment for many years. The UKC review of our products was one of the most informed and in depth that we have seen in a long time. All we provided was the gear and information on where it's available to buy.
Winter and indeed any form of climbing is an inherently risky business and can be scary regardless of how adequately prepared you are. The European Outdoor Industry as a whole has evolved to ensure that the equipment you choose to trust your life to has been manufactured, tested and certified to a specific strength and for a specific use. Throughout this process the industry has also been striving to provide value for money meaning that we are now climbing in some of the strongest and technologically advanced gear which, in real terms, has never been cheaper. The most amazing thing is that all of this has been achieved without the “help” of gigantic faceless corporations which has been the fate of practically every other sporting industry. Every climbing hardware company in the UK is a personally run business where the owners are or have been active users of the gear they sell. It is testament to every one of these companies that we are all part of an industry that still has control of it's own destiny.
Thanks to the forums of UK Climbing, users of our equipment can enter open and unhindered debate with responses from a broad spectrum of other users, retailers and even, as in this case, the distributor/manufacturer of the product they have been using. I suspect this direct link doesn't happen quite so frequently in other sporting forums. We are very grateful for all the positive comments from all of our satisfied customers out there and look forward to reading more and more forum posts as Climbing Technology equipment becomes established here in the UK.
In the end you the climbers and customers will judge and decide for yourselves.
Happy climbing and safe adventures,
Paul and Cathy Casey.
More about Climbing Technology in this UKC news item.