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Has anyone ever BROKEN a modern carbon fiber ice axe?
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By Jon H
From Boulder
Nov 27, 2012
At the matching crux

Off the top of my head I can think of 3 CF ice tools that I would count as modern: BD Cobra 1, BD Cobra 2, and Grivel Quantum Techs. I suppose the very new, very wicked Grivel Carbon Force counts as well. Not really interested in anything regarding the old BD Prophets. That was 1st gen carbon and completely untested. And yeah, they broke. But no one is climbing on them any more.

Has anyone ever actually broken one of these "modern" tools mixed climbing? I'm talking about critical failure... broken handles, head separating from the shaft, etc. Stripping the tiny machine screw in the pinky shelf doesn't count.

Please weigh in.


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By Patrick Carey
From Keene, NY
Nov 29, 2012

I was corrected just the other day by a gentleman who is convinced his Prophets are just as good as anything else on the market now. Since hes leading WI5's with them, it was hard to argue. This same guy still carries and places snargs so it's probably safe to assume he's a mutant - or just an O.G. hardman.

I am interested in the carbon issue, too. I have seen one Grivel Quantum Tech busted off. It was the aftermath left in a local shop and the previous owner wasn't around to give me the story. My suspicion is it took a very direct hit from a bulge of ice while swinging.


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By Gunkiemike
Nov 29, 2012

Jon, are you just curious? Or are you worried about these tools' reliability? If the latter, I would suggest that you needn't be; these modern tools have proven themselves in the hands of hundreds (thousands?) of climbers doing all kinds of climbing. Your anxiety would be better directed at things that do break. Like BD picks at the 4th tooth. And maybe your crampons (Grade 8's Sarkens, M10s, Saberteeths...they can and have all failed in the field)


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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Nov 29, 2012
Epic free solo with a pack on

Gunkiemike, perhaps you could direct me to a report of the M10's breaking? I have a pair and have never worried about them. I have heard a lot of negative things about BD's stainless crampons breaking though

Edit: found one. www.neclimbs.com/SMF_2/index.php?topic=4229.0

I have mine in mono-point, too. Maybe I should take a close look at the front points before ice climbing


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By Jon H
From Boulder
Nov 29, 2012
At the matching crux

I'm not worried at all. My first pair of Cobras (purchased here on MP actually) had a huge gouge in them from being torqued in a crack on the North face of Mt. Dickey. I showed them to Kolin Powick (BD's QA guy) and he told me "They're fine. Stop being a pussy."

This is just pure academic curiosity.


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By Leo Paik
Administrator
From Westminster, Colorado
Nov 29, 2012

Jon, I've heard of 2 carbon fiber shafts breaking with ice use. One was a lady who smashed the shaft into an ice bulge. I've broken 2 picks myself. That's probably a higher probability event. I've had a partner break a front point kicking rock that he didn't know was under the thin ice.


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By mitchy
From nunya gotdamn business.
Nov 30, 2012

I broke a cobra over my old ladies head once a few years back. She was talkin' smack about me always going away and shit.


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By Woodchuck ATC
Nov 30, 2012
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008

mitchy wrote:
I broke a cobra over my old ladies head once a few years back. She was talkin' smack about me always going away and shit.

+1 for holiday spirit...hope she learned a lesson from it....lol!


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By Sisyphus
From here and there
Nov 30, 2012
willie

I thought the whole BD stainless thing was just with their horizontal pointed pons not their verticals like the stinger. Is this right or can someone correct me?


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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Nov 30, 2012
Epic free solo with a pack on

I would be suspect of all stainless BD crampons...the bodies of the crampons (not just the front points) have been known to crack in half, if I remember correctly...although I can't find where I saw that

Check Coldthistle.com, he's got a great review of the issue somewhere on his site. He does a great comparison between chromoly steel versus stainless steel in its application for ice-climbing and crampon construction.

coldthistle.blogspot.com/2011/08/crampon-durability-stainles>>>


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By Jon H
From Boulder
Nov 30, 2012
At the matching crux

The only documented breakage issues are with Sabertooth crampons, i.e. horizontal front points. It is alleged that stainless is not up to the repeated cycles of being leveraged as frontpoints.

Cyborgs and Stingers have no warnings from the climbing community at large that I'm aware of. The BD stingers are the absolute tits when it comes to monopoints. Source: Coldthistle himself.


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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Nov 30, 2012
Epic free solo with a pack on

I stand corrected! Or sit, rather.


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By Goldsmith
From Ithaca, New York
Nov 30, 2012

Yeah, stainless work hardens much faster than cro moly or other steels - but the root of the BD breakages is the laser cutting process. The small 'ridges' in the cuts of the stainless sheet cause stress risers which eventually lead to failure. Perhaps better finishing of the cuts would lead to a longer service life. I know the other crampons in their line receive good reviews, but stainless still is a pretty dumb material for crampon production. But its shiny...

If it aint broke, don't fix it.


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By Dane
Nov 30, 2012
Cham '11

To the OP's original question. Why not just pick up the phone and ask Kolin or Bill? One of the failure tests at BD SLC is to literally beat the newest Cobra over a concrete sidewalk curb to failure. "The Curb test". Takes a beating and then some to break them. So not likely you'll find any/many CF shafts broken in use these days. BD and their Chinese CF makers learned well from their previous failures. Very few aluminum shafts get broken in use but it does happen. Easy enough to find pictures of those on line. Scotland is the most likely place for that to happen from the reports I get. More more likely to happen in a gym setting around the world than out doors though. But seems to happen with all of the popular aluminum shafts. Not heard or seen a broken current production Cobra carbon fiber shaft.

Picks? While better than they have been in the past, BD is the ONLY maker that still has picks breaking in use on a regular basis. BD is the ONLY current manufacture that has a "problem" with breaking picks.

The reason I stopped into comment? (this kind of stuff shows up on my blog data) I don't like being misquoted.

My first comment on the BD Stinger was just weeks prior to seeing any of the BD stainless breaking. That commnet is in quotes below. The breakage was a shock to me btw since I was climbing and soloing on BD stainless at the time and had ben for months already. Liek everyone I fell for the ad pitch and like shiney new toys. The real shock to me was how BD decided to spin those stainless failures over the next two years.

"I will focused on a Cyborg/Stinger comparison but might as well get this out of the way first.

Most obvious comparison for similar performance is the Petzl Dart at 840g per pair. The BD Stinger is 910g per pair on my scale.

For the 70g (2.5 oz) you get a easy replaceable and inexpensive front point, (likely the best improvement over the Dart) a pair of mini secondary front points (that are suppose to grow in the production version), full antibots front and back, mid sole traction of sorts for hard ice and stainless. The foot print is very close in size (virtually the same) on the Dart and Stinger. And I have accused the Dart and Dartwin as being "roller skates" on moderate ice. I don't like either there and would expect the Stinger to be just as dismal on that kind of terrain. The Stinger seems to "cut" a little better from my own use. The secondary points will allow me to use them on more ice routes than limiting them to just mixed where I would use the Darts now. None of these are a "beginner crampons" or something I'd suggest as your only crampon.. It is the right direction, but still a generation or two to go before I'll be totally happy :)"

The first review ( I had not climbed on them yet) was here:

coldthistle.blogspot.com/2011/01/preview-of-fall-2011-black->>>


For more than one reason I now generally climb in Darts or G20s made of chromoly steel. None of the minor downsides of the Petzl or Grivel crampons are anywhere close to what a crampon failure would cost you on route. Cheers! Dane @ Cold Thistle

broken BD Cyborg stainless heel piece
broken BD Cyborg stainless heel piece


And to be fair here is are two broken Nomic pictures I was sent this week. One in the gym (not uncommon for tool sued there) And another after a couple of weeks @ early season hard mixed. Was also told today about a Sarken being broken on the N. Butt of Hunter last spring. Decide for yourself if these failures were abuse, indifference on the climber's part or the wrong selection on gear.
I'm still climb on my original gen 1 Nomics.

Nomic shaft broken climbing indoors
Nomic shaft broken climbing indoors


broken Nomic trigger
broken Nomic trigger


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By Mitch Musci
Nov 30, 2012

The BD Sabertooth breakage I read about was with a flexible boot. I'm pretty sure using them with a Nepal or Mont Blanc puts less stress on the front points, and has a much lower chance of failure.


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By Dane
Dec 1, 2012
Cham '11

I'll beg to differ on that comment. I don't actually know of a broken BD stainless crampon that was used on a flexible boot. A soft boot won't help the obvious stainless durability problem any though.

Been literally dozens of BD crampons broken. Several of the first few broken pairs I traced to the owners were on NEW Nepal Evos. But BD's stainless has broken on everything from plastic to Spantiks and Batura. Basically name the technical ice boot and I suspect you can find a failure of stainless.

Below is a link to one of the many posts I have made on stainless @ the blog. My thought now? "Friends don't let friends climb on stainless"

coldthistle.blogspot.com/2011/02/soft-shoe-shuffle.html


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By Mitch Musci
Dec 1, 2012

Well Dane you have obviously done more research than me but I specifically remember reading about a flexible boot being the proposed cause of failure for a BD Sabertooth.

Also, I have been climbing on Cyborgs and Sabertooths for about 3 years now. Am I really just getting lucky? Anyone else have success stories with stainless?


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By Dane
Dec 1, 2012
Cham '11

"I specifically remember reading about a flexible boot being the proposed cause of failure for a BD Sabertooth."

The "flexible boot" in question on the first public stainless failures were Nepal Evos.


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By Mitch Musci
Dec 1, 2012

Actually Dane, I will quote Bill Belcourt

"Rafel states on his blog - - "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."

The Scarpa Escape is a flexible trekking boot not a rigid technical climbing boot. While it is burly enough for use with walking crampons with flexible center bars like the Contact or the Serac strap, it is not appropriate to use with a crampon with a rigid center bar."

I'm not trying to defend Black Diamond, just myself from your onslaught of "know it all". And if it turns out that the Nepals were actually the cause of the failure then great, I learned something today.

cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1004766/1


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By Dane
Dec 2, 2012
Cham '11

Sorry, I wasn't intentionally try to be a dick. Just trying to get the facts straight. If it were only two pairs of crampons that broke in the same manner I wouldn't have even noticed. In three years if it had been a dozen even, no big deal. But there have been more.

Rafal brought the problem to light with the first pair broken we saw in public.

In context what Rafal actually wrote was:

- Crampons are a little over a year old. Iím pretty sure I bought them last winter Ė Iíll 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.

rafalandronowski.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/broke-my-crampons/

That pair turned out to be sales samples from BD. So we'll give BD a pass for that first pair.

The first retail pair of BD stainless crampons that failed in spectacular fashion very quickly came to light almost immediatly were here:

www.gravsports-ice.com/icethreads/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showfla>>>

Blake's new boots and crampons?...Nepal Evos and Sabertooth Pros.

I have no axe to grind with BD but I do think the truth is important simply for our own safety concerns. I don't believe we will ever know what the stainless failure rate is and because of that and the reports I continue to get of broken gear (all kinds btw) I continue to be suspect of stainless crampons. YMMV. My apologies again if you felt bullied. But from my perspective and knowing what Rafal climbs in for boots I though you were misrepresenting the situation, unintentionally or not. Blake's crampons (on Nepals) showed up literally while I was speaking with Belcourt @ BD on the subject only hours of Rafal's original public comments. The soft boot explaination was obviously shown for what it was, BS.

In your defense BD's representative on the net at the time claimed everything from soft boots, rigid bars to inexperienced climbers were the cause of the stainless crampon failures. YMMV on the explanations, pro or con. I've nothing to gain from commenting..as I am not/never have been an employee of BD or any other manufacture.


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By Mitch Musci
Dec 2, 2012

Thanks Dane for the clear explanation, this is quite helpful!


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By Dane
Jan 22, 2013
Cham '11

Old thread but thought it worth mentioning since Jon had asked. I had never heard of a broken Cobra prior tothis. BD is good at replacing gear failures quietly and quickly out of the public eye.

Just heard a first hand account of a new Cobra shaft failure that ended a trip in Alaska last spring. The story surprised me. But a single broken tool will do that on hard technical ground.


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By Jon H
From Boulder
Jan 22, 2013
At the matching crux

Thanks for the update Dane. Any idea what caused the failure? Swinging into a bulge, torquing the shaft over a fulcrum point, etc?


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By Dane
Jan 22, 2013
Cham '11

The guess is it broke after hitting ice/rock against the unprotected part of the shaft while chopping with an adze enough times the shaft failed. Sure not common though. I was suprised when i heard the story.

Never, say never, I guess.


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By MarcDurant
From Boulder, CO
Jan 26, 2013

I've got a pair of the Quantuum Techs. Haven't pushed them too hard on mixed but haven't had any issues with the CF yet. They're B-rated shafts. I saw one at a used gear store once that had a bent pick from mixed climbing (or so I was told), but the shaft appeared to be fine.

One of my climbing partners had a pair of first-generation cobras that he used for everything, including pretty hard mixed, 3-4 days a week, and never damaged.

Haven't tried smashing them over a curb yet, though.


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