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Gear that works

February 5, 2010

I don’t really post about gear regularly on this blog, but as my friend Dave said last summer at the GMC, it’s SO nice when you find a piece of gear that really works for you.  My friend Wes swears by a single set of older-model ice tools and wouldn’t trade them in for the world.  I’m so psyched about one item in particular I thought I should have a shameless gear head moment and spray about them a bit (that and I get asked about crampons a LOT when I’m teaching clinics).

Generally speaking, when it comes to ice climbing gear, and tools in particular, equipment has been evolving at frenetic pace lately – mostly for the better – and I’m always ready to embrace new technology if I think it’s going to be an improvement, and therefore make climbing better or more fun.  Over the last 15 years, I’ve used no less than six different sets of technical ice tools (the ones I’m using now are a huge improvement over my first pair, which at the time were state of the art).  I have yet to buy the same pair of boots twice, and I’m still on a quest for the perfect harness.

But I recently had to buy a new pair of crampons, and that’s one decision that was super easy for me – another pair of BD Sabretooths.  I’ve been using these as my primary crampons for everything for the last 12 years, and though I do have a pair of lightweight monopoints I got on sale for the sport mixed stuff, I can’t see using any other crampon for any climbing requiring spiked feet.  To the best of my recollection, I think this is pair number eight (I have three pairs on the go right now, a summer pair with the toe strap, and my “A” and “B” clip versions for winter).  I can’t think of a single other piece of gear to which I’ve been that loyal.

What keeps me coming back to these things is the front point and secondary point geometry.  I do a fair amount of steep waterfall climbing and moderately difficult mixed, and the horizontal front points are great in fragile chandelier ice or on thin verglas where my partners’ feet seem to sheer frequently.  They are also plenty sticky and secure on the bulletproof ice we climb for the majority of the season around here.  I find that I can get away with really crappy footholds on rock with them, they almost “smear” like a rock shoe at times.  And the unique secondary forked points work so well for standing on small edges or for gaining purchase on scrappy mixed terrain.  They have never failed or popped off any of about a dozen different boots now, more than I can say for other ‘pons I’ve used.  Aside from the very idea of global warming, nothing irks me more as an ice climber than equipment failures, and these have never failed me.  Ever.

I’m always nervous about finding gear I like (especially clothing), because Murphy says the company will naturally screw with a good thing and ruin them for next season.  Thankfully, though BD has tweaked them a bit over the years since those first black ones came out, they haven’t screwed with the overall design and they climb the same now as they did in the 90s.  The latest version look pretty sexy, and it looks like they’ve finally sorted out my only nagging issue, the antibottes.  I’m curious to see if the new stainless alloy is a noticeable improvement too.  Guess we’ll find out on the next trip!

Full Disclosure:  I do get the occasional bro-deal on BD gear at a discounted price.  Bro-deal or not, I would still use these crampons, they are that good.  In fact I’ve paid full price for several pairs.

PS – is anyone else as stoked as I am that next year’s Nomics will have hammers on them?!  Yeah!  Thanks Petzl.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 8, 2010 16:48

    I am very excited for the new Nomics, but not because I am thinking of ever replacing the greatest ice tool ever made, but because you will finally shut up about not having a hammer on your Nomics. HA!

  2. Nick Buda permalink*
    February 9, 2010 21:21

    Well said, and I ain’t denying it – I like my pitons and carrying a separate hammer SUCKS! The little spikey doohicky on the pommel will be a nice addition too.

    Don’t worry though, I’ll find a way to complain about something else now while we’re climbing together, like the company. HA HA!

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