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#9049 - 02/18/11 12:11 PM Re: Broke my crampons... [Re: Rafal]
Barry Blanchard Offline
WI6

Registered: 11/22/07
Posts: 114
Loc: Canmore, Alberta, Canada
From the 70s and 80s: I broke a dozen pairs of crampons on lead. Luckily none of those breaks led to a fall. I don't seem to break crampons anymore, but since 1991 I've been sponsored and can keep several pairs on the go then trade them out for new ones.

I'm sure that I've broken a hundred picks, really. Broke both main picks and my 3rd tool pick on the crux of Acid Howl on a cold day in the 90s. Hauled up one of the wife's tools, and a file for the longer broken one, to finish. Broke both of my picks on one lead on the NW Face of Les Droites in 91. I still break picks, but just one so far this year. I think I've logged between 1500 and 2000 days of ice climbing between my guiding and recreational climbing. Many more days if I add the alpinism, where I break stuff also.

The take away: stuff breaks, and in ice climbing you are suspended by said stuff, without a certain amount of it in the ice you fall. Keep an eye on the stuff and replace it when it ilks at your confidence.

Great day out on the ice yesterday!

Barry

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#9051 - 02/18/11 01:01 PM Re: Broke my crampons... [Re: Barry Blanchard]
Rafal Offline

WI7

Registered: 01/10/10
Posts: 269
Loc: Canmore
As always, thank you kindly for the historical (!) points of reference Barry. However, as many have mentioned, you're somewhat superhuman so the fact that you didn't fall on lead while breaking stuff isn't exactly confidence inspiring!
_________________________
My little side project - The Alpine Start

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#9054 - 02/18/11 03:56 PM Re: Broke my crampons... [Re: Rafal]
Barry Blanchard Offline
WI6

Registered: 11/22/07
Posts: 114
Loc: Canmore, Alberta, Canada
no superhumaness here, just always managed to get myself out of the situation. The third tool use to be the solution much of the time. Bludgeoning away with a blunt broken pick can work, it sucks, but it can work. A broken crampon usually means getting your weight suspended onto a good tool, or getting in a screw and getting your weight onto it. I use to teach people how to get their weight onto a good tool. There is something to it as the pull changes. It is probably still a good thing to practice on the ground before you have to do it for real.

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#9056 - 02/18/11 04:33 PM Re: Broke my crampons... [Re: Rafal]
Dr Who Offline

WI5

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 42
Loc: Canmore
edited out as it got out of conversational sequence.


Edited by Dr Who (02/18/11 10:07 PM)

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#9062 - 02/18/11 11:20 PM Re: Broke my crampons... [Re: Rafal]
Belcourt Offline
WI2

Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 9
I normally would not comment on this until I see the parts but I'll make some preliminary observations and follow up when I have more than just pictures.
Rafal's crampon looks to have broken in a classic metal fatigue manner. Flex any crampon rail for enough cycles and it will break regardless of who makes it. The Sabretooth Clip comes equipped with a rigid center bar for steep technical climbing with rigid soled boots. Other models of crampons we make (Contact, Serac strap, Neve) come with flexible center bars for trekking or hiking boots with flexible soles. I have seriously considered putting flex bars on all of the Clip style crampons because the plastic toe piece allows them to be put a lot of boots that are less than appropriate.
If you use a flexible boot extensively on crampons with a rigid bars it will shorten the life of the crampon because the metal takes all the stress as the boot flexes. The only type of crampon that can make a flexible boot rigid without sustaining fatigue damage is a vertical railed crampon like a Grivel Rambo.
Rafel states on his blog - - "Most usage has been on Scarpa Escape sz. 43 boots as walk-about crampons for photography purposes. Also used by my wife (in the same boots) for ice / glacier walks a few times."

The Scarpa Escape is a flexible trekking boot not a rigid technical climbing boot. While it is burly enough for use with walking crampons with flexible center bars like the Contact or the Serac strap, it is not appropriate to use with a crampon with a rigid center bar.
So Rafel, if you plan on using this boot with your replacement Sabretooths use the flex bars instead of the rigid bars or you will eventually run into the same issue. If you need a pair of flex bars I will send them to you, and I will make the crampon instructions more clear as to what bars to use with what boots.

BThomas, I really need to see those parts please get them back to me or to the local shop. It looks to me like the frontpoints are bent down a fair bit and points don't even line up in the front. There also looks to be a crease in the steel under your finger that I zoomed in on that does not look like a light artifact to me. More detail as to what happened would be nice, and you'll still get a replacement, but at this point I'm really not buying the "I was just walking along and the front points fell off". I tried to break a pair like this in the lab and it was not possible and we bent back and forth in a vice while beating on it with a Yosemite hammer (yes very scientific I know but it was late on a Friday).

Next, Ian. I'm sorry you've had a bad time with BD poons and got no love from warranty as that is just not our style and I don't know what happened. Let me know what crampons you want and I'll send you a pair. Gadd or Barry can get you my email address. If you don't want crampons because you think they suck, just tell me what else you might want that doesn't suck and I'll send you that instead. Thanks for still using our tools.

Finally, how we treat each other on line should be no different then belaying each other at the crags or having a beer after at the Drake; yet it is. Back in the day being a climber meant something, there was a code between us, and there was respect. If that's gone we are not climbers anymore, we are just people who climb. Let's try to keep the bar a little higher on this site anyway.
It doesnít help us if issues like this get blogged around the world before we even know about it or see the parts and have chance to figure out what happened or offer any insight or analysis. All it creates is sensationalism and fear with no answers. The crew at BD really sweats this stuff big time and we have a warranty center with 3 full time guys who arenít just standing around whistling Dixie. Make them your first call and if you donít like what you hear; post away.


Thanks,

Bill


Edited by Belcourt (02/19/11 12:12 AM)
Edit Reason: one more thing...

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#9063 - 02/19/11 01:17 AM Re: Broke my crampons... [Re: Belcourt]
Rafal Offline

WI7

Registered: 01/10/10
Posts: 269
Loc: Canmore
For some more comments on this issue, please see this thread on CC.com: http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1004766/Broke_my_crampons#Post1004766

As posted there:

Bill, thank you for the comments. A point of confusion, or misunderstanding, and perhaps the cause of all this, is my perception of the flex-bars. I have always thought these were to prevent the bar from breaking when using the crampons on semi-rigid boots. Never would I have thought that the front points of a crampon which - as tradhead mentions - are, presumably, designed to sustain continued front-pointing on vertical ice would be the weak-point when used on trekking boots. After all, when you look at crampons, the weakest link seems to be the bar, which due to its lack of flex doesn't allow the crampons to conform to the shape of the boot sole. To me, a flex bar would merely solve the issue of the bar flexing, not the way the front points contact the ground while walking.

I'd also like to thank BD for being very understanding in this situation, and I look forward to your conclusions as to the cause of the breakage.

Originally Posted By: Belcourt
It doesnít help us if issues like this get blogged around the world before we even know about it or see the parts and have chance to figure out what happened or offer any insight or analysis. All it creates is sensationalism and fear with no answers. The crew at BD really sweats this stuff big time and we have a warranty center with 3 full time guys who arenít just standing around whistling Dixie. Make them your first call and if you donít like what you hear; post away.


While I appreciate where you're coming from, I respectfully disagree with this attitude.

The first thing I did was contact my local climbing shop, wherein the owner in turn contacted the local BD rep, who got in touch with BD HQ. I'm not sure how that's not letting you know about the issue asap. I also got in touch with Dane at Cold Thistle, who I know had a good relationship with you and could pass on the issue directly. Finally, I sent an e-mail to BD Warranty Dept the same day.

Secondly, I am simply trying to keep my friends safe by alerting them to something that happened to me that could potentially be life threatening. My first thought when I saw the broken crampon wasn't "How can I make an issue of this?" but rather "I was leading the crux of Bourgeau two weeks ago on these, and soloing most of Cascade a couple months ago. What if they had broken then?"

I know a few people that climb on SS Sabretooths, both pro and clip, so felt it only right to share my experience with them so that they could take an appropriate course of action, be that inspecting their crampons, choosing a different pair until there is official word on the cause of the breakage, or anything else they deemed fitting. The fact that I can post the information on a blog or forum only helps spread the information around, helping to get it to more climbers than just my circle of friends.

I do not feel that taking the time to send the crampons to BD and waiting for your analysis of the issue was the safest course of action. Again, I'd like to stress safest. Ice climbing can be dangerous enough already without having gear fail mid-climb. If an accident can be avoided, I feel it should be. I'd do the same thing if it was any other company's gear. I'm sure you take this kind of issues seriously, but so do I, just from a different perspective.

Once you have received the crampons, I look forward to your analysis and insights into the cause of breakage. And when I have that information, I will gladly share it with friends and other climbers.


Edited by Rafal (02/19/11 08:18 AM)
Edit Reason: clariication
_________________________
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#9064 - 02/19/11 02:17 AM Re: Broke my crampons... [Re: Rafal]
Dane Offline
WI6
*****

Registered: 10/17/08
Posts: 131
Interesting observation from a picture. 2nd gen Saber on the left and 1st generation Saber on the right. Serac's look to have added the same amount of material to the forward rails. Difference across the flat, in the same area as the breaks above, has gone from .53" to .70". Or if my numbers are correct, a 38% increase in material to the rails. The center bar on the front points went from .50" to .62" or 24%.




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#9065 - 02/19/11 08:55 AM Re: Broke my crampons... [Re: Rafal]
Belcourt Offline
WI2

Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 9
Ok, just a few more comments. Rafal, the center bars we use are pretty thick and rarely will break, especially when adjusted to smaller size boots such as yours and your wife's (less leverage on the bar). The stress is taken up by the rails.
As I said on the other website you mention, frontpointing is not as much of an issue because the rail does not get deflected as far before it starts getting support from the sole of the technical boot. When walking on a hard flat surface with flexible boots the rails seem to get deflected further, or maybe its just the pure cycles that do it. 5 years ago no crampons came with flex bars and we saw a lot more rail faliures especially from Glacier tour companies. This issue was solved by going to flex bars on the crampons they use. Sometimes how things work don't follow the most obvious path and we have to do a bunch of testing to truly understand how it works. We do a lot of testing to design products, and a lot of testing to understand issues when they come up.

You are totally correct that you are free to handle the breakage of your stuff in any manner you see fit if you feel it will keep your friends safer. But also understand they are our friends too and we take our responsibility very very seriously. Through our extensive experience with this type of stuff it is much better if an investigation can come first.

Lastly, Dane points out (to be fair I had told him about this) a small geometry change on all crampons from when we moved the plastic toe strap from the outside of the up-tab on the front of the crampon to the inside (some time in November of 2009). This required moving the tabs out and added some meat in this area, and we also added what we could to the ABS shelf on all models. While these changes would improve the life of the crampon in the failure mode that Rafal saw, it will not solve it over the long haul. Only using the flex bar will prevent fatigue failure on flexible boots.

With many products we make there will be constant refinements and adjustments as we learn more about how they are used and what they are used with. As many of you have seen over the years; boots have changed dramatically to lighter and softer construction. They have more rocker, breakdown faster and they become more flexible faster, some have thin soles and narrow toes that make them more difficult to fit securely. All these issues can quickly become problems for us crampon manufacturers. We have to always have a watchful eye out on the market, adapt as quickly as we can, and are always a step behind what the boot guys do. If you see other issues, please let us know. I will post again when I get the parts back and we have had a chance to analyze them.

Thanks,

Bill


Edited by Belcourt (02/19/11 09:12 AM)
Edit Reason: had coffee, found errors

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#9067 - 02/19/11 10:07 AM Re: Broke my crampons... [Re: Belcourt]
Dane Offline
WI6
*****

Registered: 10/17/08
Posts: 131
Originally Posted By: Belcourt
Lastly, Dane points out (to be fair I had told him about this) a small geometry change on all crampons from when we moved the plastic toe strap from the outside of the up-tab on the front of the crampon to the inside (some time in November of 2009).


For complete disclosure, I asked about the additional material added to the Saber Pros when I first saw the change in the fall of 2010. It was long before I heard about or saw any failures of the Sabertooth Pro. I was curious and asked because BD had added material to my favorite pair of crampons. And Bill explained the added material then, much as he did above. I didn't/don't care because I don't climb in the Clip version.

Bill's comment pretty much covers that now with the failures public.
Quote:
these changes would improve the life of the crampon in the failure mode that Rafal saw


It's no secret that Bill encouraged me to start Cold Thistle; we just disagree on how a blog or forum can best serve the climbing community in these situations.

Sabertooth is my favorite crampon. Knowing there "could" be a problem is half the solution. BD has always taken care of their friends and will here as well.

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#9070 - 02/19/11 12:35 PM Re: Broke my crampons... [Re: Dane]
Dr Who Offline

WI5

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 42
Loc: Canmore
Firstly, kudos to Will for providing an excellent place for the climbing community to converse at. Secondly, kudos to thoese that post feedback on any gear safety issues. This approach (at times flawed with emotions and passion)serves both the climbing community as well as its suppliers and ultimately leads to better gear solutions and win-win scenarios all around (good examples abound here).

However, i think it was rather unfortunate for Bill to request, to "keep the bar high", while at the same time swiftly discount BThomas' feedback as somehow dishonest, or impossible! Perhaps it was a late night...or frustration given this is a new technology (kudos for innovation btw!). Regardless, i would hope that any client's integrity deserves more public respect.

To quote another BDE rep's (Thomas Laakso) published words, BDE's customers "entrust...lives upon BD pro when we ski or climb". Thats the bottom line as publicly stated by the company (kudos!). Let's behave accordingly and indeed maintain the bar high at all times. Loyal BD client for a long time, the Doc

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