Monday, November 1, 2010
Crampons...Mono points/ Dual points
Two 2 winter's ago, I was scratching my way up a couple of pitches of moderate mixed at the end of a long walk.
I kept thinking at the time just how really hard the same two pitches would have been in my "other" gear.
The "other" gear would have been dual horizontal front points, much more supportive boots and a set of ice tools that would likely be much more appropriate for the majority of the climb.
Climbing on the last two pitches wasn't very hard, but consistent, and maxed at M 4 or 5. Way more rock climbing than ice. As there just wasn't much ice to be had beyond some nice scabs plastered here and there. So the tools were hooked on rock and the mono points set in a combination of rock or ice. Vertical granite cracks and blocks were abundant so it was easy to slot the single front point. The ice placements I did get for my feet typically sheared out with only the one set of points for support and I ended up on rock anyway.
When it came to climbing the last 30m of the open book it was all rock. Even with the best gear for that particular job it was difficult enough for me. With my "other" gear it may well have been more than I bargained for.
Daniel Harro photo
My point? In this instance a set of Nomics and Darts matched to the easy ankle flex in the older La Sportiva "Ice" made a lot of sense. No question the combo of the three made the climbing much easier. Funny how it turned out as I wasn't worried about the climbing just wanted easy boots to make the 15 mile hike in and didn't want to carry much weight. Turns out all three were a good choice on a iced up rock climb.
I used a similar thought process on another climb last winter were I took a set of Dartwins. 2000' of ice this time, most of it moderate WI4 or less. Two things I noticed besides having a lwt weight set of foot wear. ('pons and Trango Extreme Boots)
The first was the vertical front points of the Dartwins sheared through a lot on the warmer ice.
By mid day it was becoming irritating how careful I had to climb because of it. I would have much preferred a set of BD Sabertooth crampons at that point. And stripped they would have been even lighter than the Dartwins. (which come stripped)
Darts alone on this particular climb, that day, would have REALLY sucked in comparison to either the Dartwin or Sabertooth. I would have been forced to do a lot of French technique on the mono point Dart that is already notorious for having loss a set of down points. More akin to roller skates at that point than a set of Sabertooths.
In the world of ever more specialised equipment it pays to really look at what you are using, when, why and where.
I saw a comment earlier today where a very good climber was forced while following to aid and French free 30 meters of difficult rock, the same 30m that the leader had freed with mono point 'pons. The reason it wasn't freed was climbing on dual front points. The dual point 'pons simply couldn't be slotted into the finger crack.
For the remaining 500m of easy alpine ice that they simu climbed above the finger crack the Darts would have been fine and no real disadvantage over the dual points.
Another point recently made to me. If you weigh 150# in full winter kit it is a lot less likely you'll be shearing vertical front points than if you weigh in at a full 200# plus kit. I'm no fly weight. Never have been and realise I putt more stress on my gear because of it so I tend to notice the small things a little sooner where others might not.
I am comfortable with both styles of 'pons in my quiver but I also look at where I want to use them and why. If I had to chose I would ditch the monos.