Rafal Andronowski Photography Blog

Broke my crampons. Pics added.
February 15, 2011, 11:21
Filed under: Notes | Tags: , , , , ,

Please read this note before continuing: The sole purpose of this post is to make other users aware of something that just happened to me that is potentially life-threatening. I have nothing against Black Diamond – I use their screws, slings, ‘biners and crampons all the time – however I feel this is an important issue that other users should be aware of.


BD have offered to replace the crampons, I just have to send mine in. We’ll see how it goes. I am curious to hear what they believe the cause(s) to be.

For more in-depth discussion, including comments from BD, please visit these two forums:

Cascade Climbers

So the story goes like this: heading back to the car along the ice river in Grotto Canyon last night, I suddenly noticed my right foot felt a little weird, as if my crampon had loosened or come off. Surprised that I still had some traction, I looked down to find the front points of my Black Diamond Sabretooth crampons flopping around on the strap.

I picked up the offending part, but all the while I couldn’t help but wonder – what if this had happened while I was leading? I’d just lead the first and last pitches of Bourgeau Left (WI4+ and WI5) in these exact crampons around two weeks ago, not once thinking something like this could happen. I’d climbed Cascade and a few other WI4 routes in them over the past few weeks. And just last night before this happened, I was on some WI4- and M5/6, never once thinking my crampons could be an issue!

To be fair, I have heard of people shearing off front points – though mostly vertical ones. And I seem to remember that a few pointed out they were in the 200lbs+ range, whereas I weigh a scant 155lbs. Mine, though, cracked at the frame cut-out, better illustrated with photos. Additionally, upon inspection the left crampon has also cracked in the exact same spot!

I’ve gotten in touch with our local BD rep, but will also contact BD directly to see what they say on this issue. I’ll report back as I get more info.

In the meantime, if you use these or any other crampons, please inspect them, no matter how old they are or how much you’ve climbed in them!

As per Dane’s questions, some details on usage:

- Crampons are a little over a year old. I’m pretty sure I bought them last winter – I’ll check on this when I get home.
- Most usage has been on Scarpa Escape sz. 43 boots as walk-about crampons for photography purposes. Also used by my wife (in the same boots) for ice / glacier walks a few times.
- Used for WI3-WI5 climbs on Scarpa Freney XT sz. 43.5 and Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX sz. 44 boots.
- Used once for two 12-15m pitches of mixed climbing at M5/6 last night!!
- Used a couple of times for extended glacier approaches.

Apologies for the atypically subpar pictures, but I (in)conveniently left my card reader at home, so no proper photos until I get back to Canmore later tonight.


For those who are interested in such things, here are higher-res photos of the breaks. If you’d like bigger still, let me know and I can e-mail those over.

5 Comments so far
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Couple of questions. How old are the crampons, how much use on them, what boot exactly have they been used with and finally what size boot. Thanks for the heads up. That frankly looks scary!

Comment by Dane

Good points, Dane. Post amended to answer your questions!

Comment by andronowski

Rafal, again thanks for heads up here. I would have never guessed it possible in what we would consider “normal use”.

I have asked and am looking for similar incidents on the forums. The second set and a Pro model on Gravsports shook me a bit as it is what I climb in generally. I wouldn’t want that toi happen on Cascade let alone while soloing a big alpine face. Might make one rethink carrying an adze again :)

Please keep[ us updated on any additional info you are privy to.

Comment by Dane

[...] Check out the full story HERE from Rafal Androwski. [...]

Pingback by Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampon failure « Alpenglow Sports

Very interesting … and most certainly glad nothing bad happened because of that !!

One question: What is the lowest temperature you faced recently using them ? What is approximately the coldest temperature you ever used them ?

I am curious to know how well these stainless steel crampons perform in very cold temperatures.

Comment by BigJ

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