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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Petzl Lynx crampon part deux

This review started with a request by a popular and very commercial UK web site asking me to review the new Petzl Lynx.  "Commercial" in that they take loads of free gear, then write editorial comments on that free gear (and support that opinion in the forums to the uneducated) and sell commecial ads to support their website and staff from that content.  We had a few earlier discussions on how Cold Thistle benefited their customer base (my view) and how I was stealing traffic from their web site (their view).    I had written for them in the past and thought, "hey why not again?"

Then more recently when I asked I made a rather bland comment on one of the newest soft shells coming to the market.  Likely the Editor on their web site and I got or preseason samples from the same place.  I was shall we say, "less impressed" than their gear editor.  Who came back to my comment with nothing but glowing reviews of the same jacket.   Same piece of kit but two totally different opinions on the details.   I didn't bother with a second response. 

Last I did a full mental check (30 minutes ago) there is not a single bit of kit I own or have owned that I didn't think needed "fix'in" in one way or another.  Even my all time favorites, the Nomic, the Scarpa Ultra or the Atom LT could easily be improved.  Even stuff I helped design from the very beginning is not immune and generally takes a rethink once or twice to get right.  CT hammers and the NWA Salopette I dearly love fall into that category.

Bottom line if you tell me all the good things about a product and never mention the down sides...either you are a DOLT or you think I am.

If you are looking for good info to make a purchase from the writer who doesn't mention the down side is simply a thief or an idiot.  Harsh but there you are.  Simply bad info imo.

Some times I will intentionally leave off the minor down sides on a product I think so good it isn't worth mentioning.  And others rightfully so have disagreed.   Atom lt for example?  No zipper stop, no two way main zipper, no draw cord on the hood.  Yet it is still the best in category imo.   Even with those (minor to me) faults I still wear it on almost every winter climb.

That is a long way of saying verify and trust no one when it comes to reviews.   Best to know who pays the author and how.   No one pays me for my content.  You get what I think is important to me...and just a climber.   Not because some one gave me the gear and they do now and again.  But the Lynx I bought with my own cash so take what I say here with that under consideration.   I have other crampons I like.   There was a distinct reason I bought the newest Petzl offering having already owned just about every easily available crampon on the US market.

A couple of weeks ago I hosted a discussion with the local Mountaineering club on ice climbing and the gear we use to climb it with.  One of the things that was made clear to me in the discussion is that crampon fit is generally the defining factor of your own crampon of choice.  (or at least should be imo)

For those that have followed the CT blog I would guess that is no surprise.  I've only lost a crampon once, with almost fatal results, how I fit my own crampons is a serious matter to me.

I talk to climbers on a regular basis that have lost crampons from a poor fit.  How people aren't more seriously injured in those incidents I have no clue.

Last winter after all my gear was on the way to Cham I got in a pissing match with my contacts at Black Diamond about the reliability of the crampons I wanted to use.   I had Sabertooth Pros, Cyborgs and the new Stinger in my kit.   The Sabertooth was my crampon of choice.  And it was breaking last winter in first gen. form.  The Stingers were a virtual copy of the Petzl Dart and my second choice for climbing in the Alps.  The Cyborgs, heavy but proven reliability in comparison to the other two.  When asked by Black Diamond to return my Stingers for my public comments on the broken Sabertooths that were appearing on the Internet, I balked.  I didn't care about "losing" the the Stingers.  They were easy it replace with a Grivel G20 or the original Dart.  But at that point I was no longer interested in climbing on any BD crampon.  The fact I would have to buy a pair of crampons in Chamonix at retail, that I had duplicates of hanging n the gear wall at home irritated me. Annoying like a tick annoys you on a day out climbing.  Trivial but annoying if you continue the relationship.
I had Dartwins and Darts at home as well as Grivel G12s.  Any of the three fit my boots very well.
But I ended up walking in Snell's and buying a new pair of Dartwins.  Later I picked up a pair of the G22s to try out as well.

But it was the Petzl Dartwins that fit my boots, Phantom Ultras and Spantiks,  the best without any modifications.  So that is what I ended up climbing on during the trip.  Not that I thought they were the best crampon.  I actually like the G22 better and I still really like the design of the Sabertooth.

But fit and reliability is what defined what I would climb on.

Which is a long winded way to introduce you to a new crampon that really impresses me, the Petzl Lynx.

There are a lot of things I really like about the Lynx.  But I think the most important is the one I first over looked.  We are back to how a crampon fits.

This from an ice climbing friend, Debbie Sand who is still climbing in the early yellow Trango Extremes, size 38.5.

"Last year when I got the Cyborg Pros I was super excited to get out, but when I climbed the boot would shift and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Thinking it was just me not knowing the finer points of how to adjust them, I got help from friends, then Pro Mountain Sports, and even a guide in Canmore to help me adjust them, but they still moved around. The shifting made it feel like I wasn't stable when I was using a feature, and when I kicked in I was not getting in the way I had in the past. All of a sudden I couldn't rely on my feet - and I'm definitely a finesse climber-so I was burning all kinds of energy trying to kick in harder, and also using my arms more to compensate. This nightmare combo led to losing my
confidence and eventually my lead head.  Reading Cold Thistle on crampon fit last year, I was beginning to get the picture of what was going on. On a women's discussion group, I posted and found lots of women having problems with crampon fit to smaller boots. A friend had gotten a pair of Darts that looked promising boot fit-wise, and I was really thinking about those, but wanted the versatility of more
points underneath. Then Pro Mountain Sports posted a link to the Lynx video that promised it would fit any boot. Brands? Sure, but smaller boots? I went in to try them. We took my boots, my Cyborgs, and my measuring tape. When the Lynx was on my boot, the difference in how the front wire contacted the boot was striking- much more contact. We measured the width of the Lynx front wire, which is narrower, but you could see it just looking at them side by side. The front of the crampon is also angled, which follows the curve of my boot much better.

I had only planned to look- but this difference seemed to be the grail I was looking for in crampons for smaller boots, and last year had been demoralizing, so home they came. I was hopeful this would make at least some difference. Well, it turned out to make all the difference. Climbing on the seracs on hard ice days, I was able to kick in with no movement. My feet are solid again, and I can count on them to stay where I kick without shifting. I put them where I want them with relative ease, and they stay where I put them. I can keep my weight on my feet and not have to think about them. Seriously, Lynx gave me my footwork and my confidence in my feet back. I'm super stoked about the season now! FYI, an experienced gal friend with a one size smaller, newer model La Sportiva boot than mine tried them too, and found them really well fitting and solid.

And a guy friend with a bigger boot tried them and wants to dump his Cyborgs.
I think this is his boot, Kayland Apex XT I think. 8.5 for sure."

The obvious distinction of the Lynx is it comes with both a wire bail for the front attachment and a "basket" that is currently the most popular crampon attachment in the world.

When Alexis Vallet  from Grivel talked Carlos and I through the Grivel line last year at OR and dropped the sales numbers for "basket" crampons Carlos and I were both in disbelief.  With one notable exception neither of us knew anyone who climbed serious ice in North America with a basket style crampon binding.  But take a look around Chamonix in winter and they are pretty common.

Vince Anderson, on their new route, North Face of Mt Alberta, photo courtesy of Steve House

The numbers don't lie.  And it is obvious that basket style crampons do work in even the most difficult climbing and conditions.  House also used a similar Grivel set up on the first ascent of the Rupal Face on Nanga Parbat.

The Petzl Lynx comes with both binding options which gives you the opportunity to fit your smallest single boots and your warmest cold weather double boots with ease.

At $245 USD or £190.00 in the UK the Lynx is not a cheap crampon.   Besides the two attachment systems there are other advantages that might make up part of the financial hit if you require them.

This from a friend
"I've also been playing with the new Lynx crampon and have noticed there's absolutely
no need for a assym bar any more. The front portion is shaped in such a way that the
back of the front section is not parallel with the front points, true left and right
crampons. These should make me climb harder for sure."
William 11/1/11

It goes back to fit really.  Petzl used some innovative engineering here to make one pair of  Lynx fit a majority of boots commercially available.  And trust me, just being able to fit 50% of the boots available is a major accomplishment.  With the Lynx, I think Petzl made it well past the 50% grade.  Not sure any recently manufactured crampon can claim anything remotely similar.

Let's look at the numbers?

Number of points: 14

Boot sizes: 35 to 45 with M linking bar (included), optional L linking bar fits boots sizes 40 to 50 (T20850)


2 x 540 g = 1080 g (configuration with two points and ANTISNOW)

2 x 455 g = 910 g (configuration with one point, no ANTISNOW)

One of the reasons I like the Sabertooth design so much is that it also has 14 working points.   The 2 extra down points really do add to your security on moderate terrain.   Security you easily find missing on the Stinger, Dart or G20/G22 style crampons.  Although the Grivel design work has tried to minimise that lack of security with the Patented MONO-RAIL technology.

The ability to move the front points horizontally side to side and front to back allows a multitude of positions, no other Crampon offers.  I am a big guy at 180# and I don't like how monopoints shear though for me on waterfall ice.  But there are advantages in a monopoint on ice and mixed.  So sometimes I compromise.  With all the options the Lynx offers I can use a Mono point that is supported by a shorter  but second front point.  In really rotten ice I can adjust them for really deep penetration.

A lot of options on the front points.  But even more important to me is the actual size of the forefoot foot print on the Lynx.  The Lynx is lighter than a pair of stainless Cyborgs but the added coverage under foot is beginning to rival the older crampons (several generations back)  and duplicates or slightly betters the the G12 for instance and betters by a huge margin the Dart, Dartwin, G20/G22  or the Sabertooth.  The difference is a huge increase of security with this crampon on moderate terrain.  Something everyone should be cheering even with the marginal added weight gain.

Options?  I like the options.

Down sides?  The heel lever could still be better.  The retaining strap really needs to go through the top of the lever, not the bottom to actually keep the strap on the boot.  Come on guys time to change that one through out the entire Petzl line.  Petzl's anti bots?  Decent now but still lacking.  They work but others (BD and Grivel) both have better bots.  They beat duct tape though which is what I will use as required on my Darts.

Past that I really don't have much to bitch about.  It is a short list.  And like the Atom Lt hardly worth mentioning.  I still don't get a perfect fit on my Ultras but out of the box they are a perfect fit on my Spantiks (and TLTs) .  Having all the options for front point set ups makes me a happy camper.

At the moment and until something better comes along....I haven't see it yet.....the Lynx will be my go to crampon every where.


Anonymous said...

Funny that you mentioned the crampons used by Steve House on Nanga Parbat, I had a nagging question about them. If you watched his video you probably noticed that he used flexible center bars while most people say that rigid crampons are a must for technical climbing, what do you think ? My second question is about the Atom Lt, you wear a hooded version and then add a Nano pullover if it gets colder but why not doing the opposite, climbing in the lighter Atom pullover and then a hooded Nano on top ? Does this setup make sense ?


Dane said...

Steve was pretty good about confusing the issue on his "gear on Nanga Parbat" video. He didn't use the Spantik but Nuptse on Nanga. I doubt he uses the flex bar eveywhere either, including on Alberta the picture I show here.

Flex bars on a long climb like Parbat make sense. Not so much on the harder Alberta route. If Steve wasn't so busy and the question likely annoying I'd ask him :)

Stiff or even better rigid crampons do climb better on steep ice, including on Steve's solo on Remission and Repentance. But not everywhere.

There are few hard and fast rules with this stuff. We compromise to keep from breaking things in awkward places...hence the flex bars.

Nano puffs? The Nano line fits like a well worn potato sack. The Atom more like a bespoke suit. The hood adds a huge a mount of warmth, the Nano I just need to block the wind and not annoy me with the terrible fit.

But you idea makes sense! But only..if Patagonia knew how or cared how their patterns fit anyone. Good question I think and some thing I obviously hadn't pointed out, thanks.

Anonymous said...

How do they fit on Dynafit TLT5 boots?

Dane said...

Funny you should ask Matej,
I had given up on my Dart and Dartwins for fitting my TLTs and figured like most I would be using any of the newest Grivels with their nice rounded front bail.

Petzl's wire bail seems to fit my TLTs just fine with a great fit.

The Lynx fit the TLT almost perfectly. The dedicated left and right crampons help with the asymetercial shape. So you can add a fully featured crampon to the list of what will fit the TLTs. Thanks for asking as I hadn't bothered to check.

The basket version is close to fittting but I have yet to get as good fit from it although it is close. Someone esle or a smaller boot may do well with it. I'm happy with the bail version on my 28 size shells.

That makes my Thanks Giving day! :)

Anonymous said...

In this article you mentioned Grivel G22s. Much like the Petzl Dart series do they "feel like roller skates on hard ice in French technique"? Or is that just part of the inherent flaws in that style of crampon?

Dane said...

Good catch and yes I am serious.
Call it the "Dart design flaw".
The BD Stinger, the Dartwin and Dart, G20 and G22 all are basically the same design and all are missing almost a third of the typical crampon surface area and at least 2 full size down points we use to climb on. Nice for lwt weight crampons, terrible as general mountaineering crampons. No one is on their front point in the mountains 24/7.

And more likely the easy ground that will kill ya without a rope than the hanging icicle with a good belay.

That design is the cost of super light crampons at the moment. I think the Lynx is the first "reasonable" new design to come around in a decade or so. A crampon fitted to any terrain and little down side but a few added grams of weight. Still lighter than the stainless BD Cyborg and easier to adjust in every way with no loss in performance and a gain on moderate terrain by having equal length downs and the option of muti position front points.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dane

In most of your post about crampons you are comparing BD, petzl and grivel. What about Cassin and Simond? Are there any issues with the company in terms of quality or fit of crampons?

Dane said...

Cassin and Simond both make good crampons. I've posted on Simond at least once here. Just not easy for me to obtain and frankly I have too many crampons now to keep track of :-)

The fact that Grivel, Petzl and BD own the lion's share of the world market place seems to make then the ones to concentrate on when I write. It doesn't mean they are the only crampons available. I also own two pair of Camp crampons I use a lot in summer or on ski boots.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dane,

have you tried the Lynx with the Trango Extreme Evos yet? I had a long discussion with a very helpful rep from Needlesports, and neither of us were able to get a perfect fit in the rear section of the Evos (size US 10) whereas Grivel G14, for example, fits just about perfect.

Thanks and all the best,


Dane said...

I have not Harri, so good info, thank you. I have yet to sort out my Ultra as well.

marcello said...

i am happy to hear how well the baskets are doing! I do have one question though: How much more affective r vertical points(lynx,g14) than horizontal points(g12)?, I know there r some technical differences .Also does it really matter too much on the points or does it matter wat u r used to? It's a little besides the point but i have wondered it for awhile.

SweBrian said...

Can you recommend a good boot for this crampon for light mixed and mostly waterfall ice? I need to update my boots after 13 years and was looking for something lighter as well as warmer if possible?

Dane said...

Nepal Evo and Phantom Guide are both great, lwt, warm boots.

Anonymous said...

Have you fit the Lynx to the latest version of the Baturas. I have both and getting odd front point alignment. Maybe its just me and im not used to asymmetrical set-ups but the front points appear to be aiming slightly to the inside of the boot but I cant think of any other adjustments. Thoughts?


Sean said...

Dewey that's how mine fit on the new baturas, size 43.5

I don't find it a problem at all, having used both dual and monopoint. For ice it shouldn't make a difference at all, and if for some reason you are climbing mixed with dual points it is much better to have the inside point be 'shorter' than the outside, ie. pointed in as you describe.

Is there some reason you want them straight?

Unknown said...

I just asked Petzl about this. I fitted a new pair of Lynx on all of my boots - Nepal, Nepal Evo, Scarpa Omegas. The points trend inward which had me trying hard to get the front points sitting as per every other crampon I own. Pictures show they are designed this way. Haven't climbed on them, but will soon.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Sean and Anonymous that talked to Petzl about the Lynx. The inward trend of the front point is odd but maybe it is to compensate for the asymmetrical boot shape and ends up being an ergonomic thing. I dont know but this is the first pair of crampons that have done this for me in 20 years of ice climbing, so......I guess we will give it a try.

Anonymous said...

I'm also curious about the inward trend of the front points. It would seem to me that ideally they point straight forward, in the natural direction you are kicking.

Have any of you who noticed this had a chance to climb on the crampons? Is it an issue at all? I have a pair of lynx crampons, and they fit my Mammut Mamook Thermo boots perfectly; but I'm hesitant to use them, because I'm considering returning them due to the inward front points issue...

Dane said...

Petzl designers actually swear there is some signifigant advantage to that slanted front point set up. The Dartwins have always been that setup just maybe not as extreme. I have used them for a few seasons now and really like the design and how they climb. Lynx just seems all the better to me.

Brownze said...

Hey, I just got the new petzk lynx and was using them ice climbing for the 2nd time over the weekend. But when i came down off the ice, i noticed that one of my front points was missing! it was broken off and sitting at the bottom of the ice route! it broke off at one of the bolt holes... This is my first set of vertical fronts, and i was wondering, is a common occurrence with technical crampons? otherwise, i might just return them for a different pair...

Dane said...

It is not normal. Petzl should replace that under warrenty easy enough.

Unknown said...

Just a heads up, I recently rented a pair of Petzl Lynx, one of the two front points also broke on me.

Dane said...

I would talk with the rental agent on that one.

Luke said...

I recently bought the G22s because of your info on the sabretooths breaking. Now seeing your warning about the G22s on moderate terrain I'm second guessing my purchase. The similarly configured Lynx are a full 6oz heavier than the G22 and almost 5oz heavier than the sabretooths - that's pretty significant for how I need to shave weight. I guess I'll try the G22s out before deciding on a safety for weight penalty. I wish I could have it all.

Joel said...

I'm debating between these and the Sarkens from Petzl. I'd much rather have the flexibility of the Lynx but I'm wondering if the hoods on the front points are too narrow for general mountaineering days. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated on how the width of the front points affect their performance in softer conditions.

Dane said...

Both are good crampons. I think the Sarken is a better option if you are generally climbing in "soft" ice conditions on less technical ground.

Brian said...

I bought a pair of Lynx late last season and was finally getting around to putting them in monopoint mode last night. Unfort I have lost one set of the little metal cylinders used to hold the points in place. Any easy way to get another set? My searching has not been fruitful.

As an alternative idea, should I use this as a good reason to just leave them in dual point mode but with one point (the inside one?) shorter than the other? I enjoyed using a friend's monos late last winter and will be giving some mixed climbing a shot in a couple weeks.

Dane said...

Call Petzl they will have the part you need.

Brian said...

The word from Petzl is they technically only sell that part as part of the frontpoint replacement kit (~$60), but they are going to look around and see if they can find any random spare parts around.

Lesson: don't lose your parts!

Jesus_Castro said...

Hi Dane,

Ever try the Lynx with the Phantom 6000? My early 90's switchblades are not cutting it.

Thanks for your time,


Dane said...

Hi Rusty..many like them on the6000. I like the Dartwin better for my own use.

Yogesh said...

What do you think of Rambo 4 ?

Dane said...

Rigids like the Rambo climb pure ice like nothing else. I like a lighter crampon these days. So I sue a G20 much of the time or a Dartwin. But a Rambo climbs exceptionally well.

Rob said...

Great! Impartial and truthful. Just became my favorite gear blog!!

Anonymous said...

Hey like your reviews and reading about your exploits.
I am some what new to ice climbing but have been back country skiing, winter climbing ext a long time. Currently using Sarkens but not happy with how tuff it is to get the front points into cold brittle ice on vertical sections. Should I buy something with vertical front points like Darts or grind down the hoods on the Sarkens or just deal with the time it takes to kick in proper with the Sarkens? Never been opposed to modifying gear if I mess it up it means I have by new.
Thanks J

Dane said...

Try the will work better and alst longer than modifing your Sarken.

kevino said...

Hey Dane,

Hopefully you'll see this. Have you tried putting the Lynx on your Spectre's? Curious about the fit. Thanks.


Dane said...

It is a decent fit Kevin.

Unknown said...

Dane, been reading here with interest. Need crampons to fit my DF ZZero ski boots, in a big size. (I forget the Mondo number; my foot is Euro 48 in most gear.) Do you have a useful guess about how Lynx would fit on them? Am prepared for need for long center bars. Thanks.

Lake Placid, New York

Dane said...

Howard, sorry I don't on boots that big. Ask the question of Big Foot Alpine Guides. They might have a real world answer for you. But likely the Petzl will work with a strap on toe. If you wanted full clip ons I'd look at Grivel's offering.

Alex K said...


Thank you for maintaining this excellent site. It has quickly become one of my most trusted resources.

Given that the Lynx has vertical front points, would you still recommend it for moderate alpine climbing, such as glacier travel, or would a crampon with horizontal front points, such as the Grivel G12, be more appropriate? I like the configurability of the Lynx but am concerned that it may be too aggressive and thus a disadvantage at my current level.

Dane said...

Hi Alex, I likely want one of the lighter horizontal crampons. The G12 is good or the other Petzl offerings like the Vasak would be my choice.

Unknown said...

Dear Dane, Thank you for all these wonderful posts, they really helped me a lot. May I ask does the lynx toe bail wires fit the phantom 6000 toe welts well? Or should I switch to flexible bindings? Personally I do not like flexible bindings so this is a concern to me if I have to go for the phantom guide instead of phantom 60000. Thank you very much!


Dane said...

Thanks Jack. Yes the Lynx seem to fit both the 6000 and Guide well enough.

Marek said...

Dane, have you talked with a rental agent about Lynx front point breakage since then? I'm considering buying them and I may hope that any design flaw was fixed in the meantime but maybe it isn't so. I've read older reports about breakages also on some discussion forums. It seems that the problem is that Petzl casts the front points instead of hot-forging them, so they are a little bit weaker. Btw, you haven't had any problems with them, have you?

Dane said...

Some of the Lynx front points did break early on but nothing like what I saw happen with the stainless BD crampons. I haven't climbed enough in the Lynx or Stingers to comment on their breakage or kept track I went to the one piece forged fronts by Grivel and Petzl. Happy with both.