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daler

Dual VS. Mono

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Hi,

 

Just wanted to open up a discussion on this.

Seems like these days many ice climbers(seasoned ice techs and first day hackers)go for the mono points.

I spend 75-100 days a year with this wacky sport and have found that the good ole dual horizontal front point to be the best. I'm talking about crampons like the BLACK DIAMOND SABERTOOTH(sorry have to plug one of my sponsors) and similiar- I know Grivel makes a good version as well.

The key is having aggresive secondary points ie. not glacier style straight down secondary points. These are where you get your platform from and give you tons of stability.

I teach alot of High angle ice and 100 percent of the time when I have a person first try a mono(this is what the always show up with)and then switch to my Sabertooths they always prefer the Sabers.

I'm not the only one if you don't trust me. Will G. Raphel S. and many of the top ice masters will be found climbing pure ice in this style of crampon.

Forsure in super warm ice and and mixed climbing the mono will not slow you down. But the only time I'm in my monos are on the high end mixed routes where the mono is great for cracks and rock weaknesses.

 

From proffesors to Rainbow Serpent to Birdbrain i'm in my Sabertooths 99% of the time.

 

watta ya think?

 

daler bigdrink.gifbigdrink.gif

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What about dual vertical front points versus dual horizonal front points? Do you find that vertical front points fracture/break the ice less than horizontal?

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I think that for the average climber, mono versus dual frontpoints will be less consequential than the quality of the overall design. For me the strength of the overall design hinges first and foremost upon how well the front and secondary points work together to provide a stable platform. How well the frontpoints work in terms of ease of placement and penetration, extent of shattering upon placement,etc are also important - but secondary for me.

 

The Sabretooths are an example of a well designed crampon on all of the fronts listed above. I think this is the only BD crampon that I'd be willing to say that about. The Grivel Rambos/Rambocomps are another example of a well designed crampon - my favorite for waterfall ice. The frontpoint penetrates well, and most importantly, the secondary points are designed in such a way that they engage right away after you drop you heel, and provide a solid, stable platform. I've also found that my footwork is a bit quieter and more efficient in these as it often only takes a single kick to get a good placement, and I can achieve such placements in convoluted ice quite a bit more easily, and displace less ice with the Rambocomp monos than I could with my old dual points.

 

Speaking of my old dual points - these may have been some of the worst waterfall crampons ever made - the BD Switchblades. I pretty much hated everything about those crampons. The worst feature was the fact that the secondary points were recessed so far that you had to drop you heels about 50 degrees past vertical to get them to engage, at which point the frontpoints were well on their way to levering out. And the frontpoints were too thin to provide much resistance to shearing, had a metal brace between them to thwart efficient penetration, and were too close together to work efficiently. Bad design all around IMO.***

 

Dale - since you must consult with BD on their designs - what is the deal with BD's secondary points? After looking at the Bionics I was stunned to see that they had tiny, over-recessed secondary points - just like the Switchblades, Makos, et al. Also - what do you like about the Sabertooths beyond the secondary points? Must be some other attributes that make them stand out as well. I have a pair and think that they are the best all around crampons on the market, but still prefer the Rambocomps for the few forays to the ice that I've managed to make each year since moving back to Washington.

 

***Usual disclaimer. It's not about the equipment, Jeff Lowe Soloed Bridalveil with hinged crampons and bamboo-shafted tools, etc, etc, etc. Agreed. These are just some of the things that stand out to a mediocre hack that gets out occaisionally.

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I do not like horizontal frontpoints for pure ice cause they seem to fracture chandeliers more than verticals.

 

I have my M10's set up with offset duals, inner point long and outer point short, which gives me a pseudo-mono but some of the stability benefits of duals as well and seems to work with my asymmetric boots. I tried regular mono, and normal symmetric dual, with these crampons and prefer my current setup. Disclaimer I don't do much mixed with them so this is mainly with respect to water ice.

 

The only BD gear I like is the ice screws. The tools all seem to have the wrong balance and/or grip shape and the crampons also seem to have design flaws as witness the infamous Switchblade which everyone seems to hate with a passion!

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i had never climbed pure ice on monos until this year - i had my m10s in mono mode for mixed climbing at the end of last year and was too lazy to change them around... i liked them a lot on early season ice, because it seemed to make it easier to aim between chandaliers. however, i did find that sometimes they were more tiring and/or less stable because the mono point can "roll" to one side or the other, especially when placing the foot in pre-existing steps or projections instead of kicking straight in. i'm intruiged by dru's suggestion - i have never tried the "offset" configuration of the m10s, sounds like it might be the best of both worlds.

 

in general, i have found that i like vertical points for west coast ice (read: "not that fat"), because i seem to be able to be more gentle with delicate, not-that-well-formed or brittle ice. this may simply be the skill of the user, rather than the merits of the equipment... i agree with dale that if the ice is fat, it can be less fatiguing with horizontal front points, especially if the foot placements are pre-existing or has long stretches of lower angle ice (i.e. alpine). [FWIW, i use a pair of older charlet horiz. front points, i forget the name, but they are contemporary with the switchblades but have a much better secondary/tertiary point.]

 

i really prefer vertical points if there's going to be any rock climbing involved, i definately feel like i can be much more precise.

 

maybe the main difference here is simply that dale, will, rafael et. al. have a different definition of "fat" than i do?

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Based on my limited amount of experience, I agree with the proponents of Sabretooths.

 

The first new pair of crampons I bought were Sabers back in '94 and I've used them on everything from glacier slogs to WI4 at Hyalite. I never had a single problem with them aside from the occasional front point snag on my pants. Not once did they pop off my foot and on ice they always felt really stable and secure.

 

Recently I scored a pretty good deal on a pair of Bionics that I used on a couple pitches in the Wallowas last weekend. I noticed that, unlike the sabres, the front toe bail on the Bionics does not fit snugly to my boot, causing the boot to shift latterally in the toe bail and on the front part of the crampon. Very unstable and very unnerving. I also noticed that the platform was not as secure and I had to kick harder and more often to get a decent placement. Whether this was a factor of my technique, gear limitations or ice conditions is not something I can judge clearly. Does forming the front bail more tightly around the boot ease that shifting problem?

 

I may go back to my sabres and sell the bionics.

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Switch out the front bail for one that fits your boot and watch your problem disappear.

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The front bail can be bent pretty easily. Thats what I plan on doing. Do you see any problems with this?

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They can usually fit a differently shaped stock bail on there at a large gear store like MEC where they have them in stock. I know there are 2 or 3 different bails available for the Charlets and this is one advantage to taking your boots with you when you buy crampons in a store as opposed to buying online. The only disadvantage to trying to reshape your own is the possibility of creating latent stress fractures through pounding on it.

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Your response shows you don't have much experience with the Bionics, Dru. The metal on the front toe bail is pretty pliable. I'm not sure what its made out of but it feels and looks more like some kind of aluminum alloy. When I adjusted the bail forward and back it bent pretty easily.

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I am used to bails that you have to reshape through pounding with a hammer to adjust. But for any metal the more that you bend it the more you will create a weak spot.

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The front bail can be bent pretty easily. Thats what I plan on doing. Do you see any problems with this?

 

i hate bails that don't fit the curve of the boot toe snugly, so i reshape mine if necessary. no hammering, just a vise, hefty vise-grips, and judicious application of the appropriate portion of my body weight...

the only toe bail i ever broke was quite few years ago on a pair of foot fangs, and they had not been reshaped. otherwise, so far, so good.

cheers,

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i'm on the same wavelength. altho i did enjoy the G-14s in mono mode most of last season. the first few days out this year have been very cold by Coastal standards, and I'm finding the monos insecure. i've had several placements rip thru brittle ice, and i don't like having to keep the point razor-sharp to get it to punch into "fingers" of ice, rather than deflect off into the groove between 2 fingers (where it risks breaking out). ironically, for exactly this reason, i think you have to kick harder with a mono to get an accurate placement, and that's nasty on delicate ice.

 

oddly enough, when i'm alternating out of the G-14s, i'm using a pair of sarkens (pretty low-tech) and while they feel and sound like they are plastic toys on your feet, they are performing really sweetly. best feature so far is that the geometry of the front-points and secondaries allows you to cock your foot sideways about 30 degrees and angle it outwards (supinated) about the same to kinda "crab onto" funky surfaces with the inner front point and its neighbouring secondary. just cuz u got 2 front points doesn't mean u gotta use them!

 

cheers,

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One other good feature of the Rambocomps - and maybe others - is the second row of secondary points (tertiary points?) - which point backwards. I've found myself using that feature quite a bit to cop a rest or two for the calves on downward sloping features.

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The only BD gear I like is the ice screws. The tools all seem to have the wrong balance and/or grip shape and the crampons also seem to have design flaws as witness the infamous Switchblade which everyone seems to hate with a passion!

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i'm using a pair of sarkens (pretty low-tech) and while they feel and sound like they are plastic toys on your feet, they are performing really sweetly

 

Don, hope you don't mind if I ask - are the sarkens you are using of the spirlock variety ?

 

btw I was looking at the sarken frontpoints the other day and thinking, 'do I really want to use these huge t-sections for cold brittle vertical ice ?' But the secondary points look like they would offer a lot of support.

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I'm not sure what its made out of but it feels and looks more like some kind of aluminum alloy. When I adjusted the bail forward and back it bent pretty easily.

 

rbw1966, be forewarned. If there is any chance that your toe bail is made of aluminum (which I doubt), bending it in any way will significantly reduce its strength.

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i'm using a pair of sarkens (pretty low-tech) and while they feel and sound like they are plastic toys on your feet, they are performing really sweetly

 

Don, hope you don't mind if I ask - are the sarkens you are using of the spirlock variety ?

 

btw I was looking at the sarken frontpoints the other day and thinking, 'do I really want to use these huge t-sections for cold brittle vertical ice ?' But the secondary points look like they would offer a lot of support.

 

yup, spirlocks. effective enough, but i've got some complaints too. (nothing is perfect, is it! and not all change is "progress".)

 

first off, it's kinda tricky getting the heel to slot properly into the rear bail, especially in deeper softer snow - and i find i have to do that bare-handed, which ain't the best when it's dead cold. call me conservative (or paranoid), but while you can manage OK below an ice route, i don't think i'd want to be dealing with this on a multi-day winter alpine route, Denali, the Himalayas, or someplace equally serious. i could imagine the choices being dying because you couldn't get your crampons on, or freezing your hands to do so. the sidelock looks like presenting the same problems. but that's just worries, not experience, so maybe there's no issue...

 

second, i generally try to avoid any/all kinds of strap systems - they are noticeably colder than pure bail clip-on systems, especially with leather boots, and that's true for the sarkens too. as well, i find the plastic toe thingie difficult to get to flip back over the boot toe - the rings kinda jam in the loops at the top of the posts and resist rotation. this is worse when it gets colder and the plastic stiffens.

 

but the points work brilliantly. i haven't found any problems with the T-section - i reckon if the ice is hard, you're probably not penetrating that far, and if it's soft, it doesn't matter. and the secondaries are sharp, well positioned, and highly functional. so are the rest of the points.

 

i think they'd be brilliant with the leverlock heel and the sidelock toe (i.e. wire bail). this combo isn't available from Petzl-Charlet, but it could be "assembled". maybe i'll try to do so...

 

cheers,

Edited by Don_Serl

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i think they'd be brilliant with the leverlock heel and the sidelock toe (i.e. wire bail). this combo isn't available from Petzl-Charlet, but it could be "assembled". maybe i'll try to do so...

 

That's what I'm trying to do to mine. So far no luck, the other crampons I have the heel levers don't fit and I've not got a reply from Petzl or Mountain Gear (where I bought them) as to getting a heel lock to retro fit.

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I am used to bails that you have to reshape through pounding with a hammer to adjust. But for any metal the more that you bend it the more you will create a weak spot.

 

I don't think pounding with a hammer is a very good idea. I bent my bails to my bionics by squeezing them in a vice.

 

I'm glad I kept my CM grade 8 duals because I have some concerns about my bionics as mono points. Maybe I'll just save them for playing on mixed routes.

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dale, i thikn it's the matter of what you get used to. i love my darts, i think it's the best ice crampon. very light. i also like sabertooth. i think they are the best all around crampon out there.

and Don, once you get used to it sidelock is not any harder then any other rapid fix system.

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Has anyone looked at the Dartwin's ? I noticed that they have the outer point longer than the inner. Also, the points are thicker than the Darts. Huh ?

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