The crux of the Croz Spur, photos and content courtesy of Dave Searle
So I had a problem.... I had just bought a brand new pair of scarpa 6000's and I didn't have a crampon to fit on them. I prefer using Mono points for mixed climbing and I knew that if I wanted a super-light crampon I only really had two options. The Grivel G20 or the Petzl Dart.
I bought the G20's from a shop here in Chamonix over a year ago now and I have used them for nearly all my climbing. I have used them on the north face's of the Eiger, Droites and Grandes Jorasses. I used them water ice climbing and I have also used them mixed climbing in Scotland as well as using them as my dry-tooling crampon. Are they reaching the end of there life? I'd say so, but hey they have had a good innings.
I knew when I bought them that unlike a modular crampon like the G14 or M10 it would be expensive to change the front section when the front point became to short. I do a lot of climbing and I was willing to take that financial hit for saving the weight and having a more technical crampon. I really wanted a crampon with rear facing secondary points for dry tooling and steep mixed.
These crampons have worked really well in all but one area..... ridges. I know that they weren't designed for that and to be honest any climber who looked at them or used them would say the same thing. If your looking for a crampon that will cover classic alpine routes then look somewhere else. If your looking for a super-light mixed climbing mono then these baby's are well worth a look.
Why aren't they any good for ridge's I hear you ask. Well they are built around Grivels own “mono rail” concept which means that the front of the crampon is attached to the back by a single rail with four teeth along its length. It sits right underneath your foot so when you put your foot on any flat or rounded rock your balancing on one of the rail points which is isn't that stable.
I used these crampons when I climbed the Colton/Macintyre this year and they worked really well on the face, but after we topped out we continued straight into the traverse of the Jorrases, a long and precipitous ridge climb to get to the Canzio Bivi. It was quite hard work with these crampons on but I still managed it ok. I'm not saying you won't be able to climb ridges with them on, all I'm saying is if you want one crampon to rule it all then there are probably better designs out there.
What you loose in stability on that kind of terrain you gain in other area's. For example not having the 4th row of points on the side of your foot means that the 3rd, rear facing points are easier to use when drytooling or steep mixed climbing because there isn't anything in the way on the side of your foot. If you've ever properly used the 'rake' points for there intended purpose you'll know what I'm trying to say. Also having the points underneath your feet on the fixed bar means that if you ever kick your foot out or use it sideways around a icicle you can really get them in because they are so solid on the bottom of your foot.
As can be expected from Grivel these crampons are really well made and I have had no issues with the build quality. I'm not sure what to say about the longevity of them as I personally think they have lasted really well for the use I have given them but some of my friends who have used them as well don't feel the same way. Perhaps I'm better at hitting the ice rather than the rock when I'm mixed climbing?
One thing that Grivel have gone for over Petzl is three adjustments holes for the front bail. This means that you can have the front point super short for technical mixed climbing or super long for ice. Its useful to have that adjustment for when you've filed the front point down a bit as you can push it further forward to get better hold on softer ice or snow.
When I bought these crampons they did not come with the subsidiary horizontal front point that they now come with. I'm not sure how much this will help with grip in snow or soft ice but I haven't had any issues without it. They don't grip as well as a traditional crampon in snow but all you need to do is kick a bit harder up that snow cone before the fun really begins.
I thought that I was going to have some problems with balling up (when heavy wet snow collects under your crampons in a ball, which is heavy and annoying on the flat and pretty dangerous on a slope!). I can honestly say that I haven't had any issues with this with these crampons and that's not because I haven't encountered the right snow for it. I can recount a few times when partners that have been using the Darts have had a total mare of it when its been fine for me. You can buy an anti-balling plate for the front but I haven't felt the need for it yet.
There is only one thing I would change about these crampons. I would get rid of the first point on the mono rail (the furthest forward one). Why? Because I find when I stand on a large spike it takes me a bit fiddling to locate the front of my foot onto it securely. I think if this point wasn't there not only would it be a few grams lighter but it would be easier to nestle your foot on the top of that big granite block your eye-balling.
Pinocchio, Mont Blanc du Tacul
"All in all its a great technical crampon that excels on mixed terrain and water ice but also copes really well with big stuff and dry tooling." Dave Searle
Pinocchio, Mont Blanc du Tacul from skigrandbec on Vimeo.
Sometimes you just wear gear out and it simply needs to be replaced