Petzl's answer on 12/21..less than a week after Petzl France got a look at the first pair of damaged tools.
It should be obvious I am a big fan of the Petzl line of tools. I'm been using Quarks and Nomics from almost day one of production.
If you have read the "Old Nomic, New Nomic" comparison you have seen how the pommel male/female interface differs on the old and new model. I had written about and speculated that the sloppy fit on the pommel/shaft interface would likely be an issue. But I had thought the tools would make it through more than a few days of climbing.
The pictures here are from Daniel Harro's new set of Nomics with less than a dozen water ice pitches total on them. As in less than a total of 12 full pitches of climbing and the pommel is stripped on one tool and about to go on the second.
My new Ergos are seeing similar wear issues with the interface and already dinged and showing premature wear. Petzl says they will warranty them but replacement isn't going to stop it from happening again. It is obvious we will need a better fix asap. The metal inner face between shaft and pommel is 3mm on the pommel with one tooth and 6mm on the aluminum shaft end so it is not full strength and the harder stainless is cutting through the softer aluminum shaft with relative ease. Before anyone cries foul and that it must be climber abuse, my original Nomic pommels are going on FOUR full winter and alpine seasons, hundreds of pitches by now and never a bobble as we start on the 5th season.
If you have the newest tools Nomic or Ergo and have climbed on them...check your gear now.. as you likely already have some wear happening. Only two of us in our small climbing community that are on the newest tools, and we do.
Less teeth, and rounded teeth are making the new pommel much, much weaker in comparison to the older style tools with full width interface and a square cut interface. Add to that the serrated "spike" digging into the ice, loosing the ability to slide around a bit under that kind of force applied with each swing of the tool and failure seems assured on the newest Nomic and Ergo pommels.
The only answer I have at the moment is set the pommel in one position and use some very good steel based epoxy to keep it from moving and hopefully give your handles some added life. But I don't know if that will void the warranty at Petzl yet. (12/07/2001 update.. Petzl says it will void the warranty..so don't do it)
No easy long term fix, but worth thinking about as well, is pull the new pommels off completely and bolt on the older pommels. (they bolt right on but only in a "BIG" size) The grip will be bigger but at least that way you will strip a plastic part and not your aluminum shaft and need a new tool. That way if Petzl does come up with a quick answer your shaft won't be totally useless when they do.
Update directly from Petzl this morning 12/07/2010
This is info I gathered from a conversation with Rick Vance @ Petzl. For those that wonder Rick is a climber just like the rest of us. You can take him at his word.
These are the first failures Petzl has seen. They are on to the problem now and working to identify the exact issues that caused the failure and most importantly a long term fix. Broken tools will be covered under warranty. So no worries there. Don't start modifying tools or adding epoxy. Give Petzl a chance to solve the problem first. Petzl will give a public update once they know what caused the problem and their proposed solution.