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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Stainless crampons?

Typically this post gets revived every Jan/Feb.   Been that way since BD started using stainless crampons back in the Fall of  2010.   This year the warning comes a little earlier.  Typical email...for a stainless failure.

"Hi Dane

today we were climbing high above Thun, Switzerland on the Stockhorn. A
limestone peak with a small northface - and a cabin that brings you
up&down, Chamonix-Style :)

My friend used a crampon from black-diamond. While seconding one pitch,
I found a piece of steel, that reminded me on crampons... it was half
of his front-part!  fortunately he didnt fell and the wall wasnt really

as I remember that you wrote about bd-crampons breaking I thought I let
you know about it, two pictures are attached.

thanks for your blog & all the best

Personally?  I am still amazed no one has been killed.
In the 40 plus years I have been water fall climbing I have seen all sorts of stuff break.  I have not seen anything break like stainless crampons...including the original Chouinard rigids.  I am sure the Internet helps bring this kind of situation to light and to the for front again and again.  But still...I have never seen anything like it going on year after year, starting in 2010 and going on into almost 2014 now. 

You all be careful out there!

More here on previous failures.  They are common enough that typically I simply don't bother reporting them anymore.

dbl click the photos if this interests you ........

Photos are courtesy of Tinu.  Many thanks for the heads up!


Unknown said...

To be fair its BD crampons that have failures. Stainless steel has been used in Simond and Camp Crampons without problems.

Dane said...

Partially correct. No one but BD making a stainless crampon either. Simond has a forged stainless front point. They have never made a stainless crampon. Forged front points are a good place to use the material an appropriate method of manufacture. CampUSA use to make a stainless mountianeering crampon from Sandvik stainless but they flexed pretty badly. It was never a serious alpine climbing crampon IMO. Now they only use Sandvik to make a lwt ski touring crampons. Good use for th material there IMO.

Tim Brose said...

Has BD ever done an 'offical' recall of these crampons? And if not, why not?
As much as I like my BD C4s and stoppers, I honestly can't see buying any of their crampons at this point?

Ian said...

What is the exact number of crampons you have seen fail?

Dane said...

Better question to ask BD don't ya think? I stopped counting the 2nd year...

This is a PSA for those needing the info or interested. I suggest everyone do their own home work, make your own count and decide how it might effect your own climbing and then act accordingly.

Steve said...

Seems all the breaks have occurred in the "classic" crampon design without modular front points as in the stinger or cyborg. Am I correct?

Dane said...

Steve, I have also seen a few pairs (3 or 4 that I remember) of the Stingers/Cyborgs with broken heel pieces. But nothing like the numbers of the Classics verion front pieces.

Anonymous said...

Are they part of the "test" model that BD claimed before?

Dane said...

Of the dozens broken I have documented only one pair were "test" prototypes that were sold "as new" at a gear swap in Canada. There is no easy way for a consumer to know the difference.

The broken crampon here is a Serac model, sold at retail in the EU.

sassovertical said...

Dane said...

Ha, ha, Please tell me you don't actually believe the BD gear lab link as an asnwer to broke stainless crampons?

I have also posted that link here...previous. IMO it's nonsense. YMMV

Anonymous said...

CAMP/Cassin is using the Sandvik steel in their new Blade runner crampon, in the heal section...
I've been using them in the Adirondacks this early season and have had good luck thus far 4 times, and like them so far! (the business end is nice!)
it'll be interesting to see how the heals last...
best to all...

Adam Forslund said...

BD's own testing in their blog post showed that the CroMo version of the Sabretooth broke at a higher cyclic rate and a nice tight cluster around 16,000. The SS version was inconsistent and spread out anywhere from 8,000 to 17,000.

BD information shows they picked an inferior material for the horizontal pointed crampons.

There is no excuse for allowing these crampons to be on the market and in the wild. If BD wants to insure the safety of its customers they need to recall the crampons and come clean.

BD's own lab proves that SS was a bad idea and they know it.

Good Luck