Steve House's thoughts on crampon choice


Original Post
Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 650

Read Steve's ideas here: Uphill Athlete

I thought that this would be a really good read for many who are looking to break into ice climbing and have questions about crampon choice. 

divnamite · · New York, NY · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 170

Here’s how I see climbing gear (and lots of gear): Different companies, for whatever reason, do certain products really well, and other products that don’t seem so different, they never master. Let’s pick on Black Diamond because they’re owned by soul-less venture capitalists: BD simply does not have it in their culture, in their make-up, their DNA, to build good ice climbing gear. They never have. Their tools are imperfect, if not outright horrible, and their crampons, except for a brief Sabertooth era, are equally lousy. Camalots? Brillant. Great. They do great rock protection. Skis? If you think Black Diamond skis are any good, please try a Kaestle or a Blizzard, or something from a REAL ski company. Different product, same reason for the same result.

Burn!!!

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

Seems to me that BD has pretty good screws and I had good luck with stingers and cyborgs. Not so happy with the picks and vipers.

mediocre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0

I get what he's saying but that's an unfairly broad comparison of skis. 

ac1 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 15

The current BD Helio skis are made in Austria by Blizzard.

mediocre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0
ac1 wrote:

The current BD Helio skis are made in Austria by Blizzard.

Take that Steve House. 

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

the article seems to be a vehicle for him to pump his sponsors....   personaly i like camp/ cassine a lot better than Grivel when it comes to ice tools........ YMMV

jdejace · · New England · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 10

I pretty much idolize Steve House but I think he maybe got a little carried away here...

I'm not sure how much it really helps beginners. As Steve himself notes the much maligned Sabretooths were good enough for the Slovak Direct...I wouldn't agonize over crampons. 

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 162
jdejace wrote:

I pretty much idolize Steve House but I think he maybe got a little carried away here...

Agreed.  I was disappointed when this article came out.  It seems like most of the content is digs are other brands besides his sponsors (BD) and other climbers (like Will Gadd, who seems like a genuine nice guy).

Will S · · Joshua Tree · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,053

House is sponsored by Grivel. No conflict of interest or anything there, lol.

I'd take anyone's advice who has a financial stake in the companies in question, with a giant bag of salt.

Edek Falkowski · · Buffalo, NY · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 110

No mention of Cyborgs? Those things are rad...

Turner · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 130

I'm just here to read the comments. 

Eric · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 10

 "Let’s pick on Black Diamond because they’re owned by soul-less venture capitalists"

Imagine being such a Great Man that you do not even hesitate to declare the intrinsic inferiority of other humans because they invest in companies et al.

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 162

Based on the bright green antibotts, I think Jess Roskelly used BD crampons on their ascent of The Gauntlet of Huntington this year:

http://www.alpinist.com/doc/web17w/newswire-huntington-complete-south-ridge-ascent

Doesn't seem like a place where "lousy" crampons would be successful.

DCarey · · Missoula · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 15

Tools are not what makes a carpenter skilled, experience does. Give someone like Will Mayo any pair of technical tools and crampons and he will be able to pretty much climb anything. In the end tool and crampon choice is subject to personal preference and any gains are marginal. 

Addem Bursh · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 845

I saw Steve House at a mountain shop in Ouray, and he was smaller than I expected, and that makes me angry as does this.

Andrew Krajnik · · Plainfield, IL · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 277
Addem Bursh wrote:

I saw Steve House at a mountain shop in Ouray, and he was smaller than I expected, and that makes me angry as does this.

"William Wallace is seven feet tall!"

"Yes, I've heard. Kills men by the hundreds. And if HE were here, he'd consume the English with fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning from his arse."

Jonny d · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 40

"Let’s pick on Black Diamond because they’re owned by soul-less venture capitalist."  I really hate to see this pure ad hominem attack based on ignorance coming from Steve House.

(1)  Black Diamond is owned by Clarus Corporation ;https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Diamond_Equipment

(2)  Clarus Corporation lists its major shareholders and shows Warren Kanders as holding 4.7M shares of Clarus; a market cap of $199M and stock price of $6.65/share implies roughly 30M shares outstanding, of which Mr. Kanders's shares constitute ~16.6%; https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/BDE?p=BDE;

(3)  83.4% of Clarus' shares are not owned by Warren Kanders, implying that they're owned generally by the public; shall we pick on the public for being soul-less, as well?  If so, anyone who has a retirement plan or owns a mutual fund ought to be looking in the mirror;

(4)  Warren Kanders is not a venture capitalist; he is a principal shareholder of a private equity (or private investment) company; venture capitalists invest in start-ups; private investment companies typically invest in going concerns; https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorhwang/2012/10/01/presidential-debate-primer-whats-the-difference-between-private-equity-and-venture-capital/#43c8f7703c45  Consider:  "In other words, private equity is usually about taking an existing company with existing products and existing cash flows, then restructuring that company to optimize its financial performance.  When private equity works right, it can save poorly-performing companies from bankruptcy and turn them into profitable enterprises."  Although I'm sure some folks out there would love to see BD go bankrupt, Kanders' investment and guidance may actually be helping BD grow and offer better products.

(5)  Why is the comment on the soullessness of venture capitalists allowed to go unchallenged when reference to just about any other stereotype in our society brings instant condemnation?  Just because people are engaged in business does not mean they should be judged harshly, even when they are venture capitalists.  Earning profits is a win-win for society-- each party to a transaction brings to the other something that the other values more-- creating additional value.  Ask Steve House-- it's exactly what he's pursuing with his whole Uphill Athlete gig and his TFTNA book- people give up their dollars to Steve because they value Steve's advice more than they value their dollars (and Steve accepts their dollars because he values the dollars more than he values his advice).  Basic economics.  Consider the further good they do in society apart from the profits they create.  https://techcrunch.com/2012/04/25/andreessen-and-horowitz-explain-why-the-firms-partners-are-donating-half-their-vc-income-to-charity/ 

(6)  [Edited to add:] There's also this not-so-subtle implication that a company that makes gear with a profit motive will turn out crappy gear.  So, if folks here had to purchase gear manufactured before the fall of the Iron Curtain, would you rather buy and rely on gear produced in the USSR (i.e. no profit motive) or gear produced in capitalist (i.e. profit-motivated) Western societies?  This is a no-brainer-- you'd want the latter (unless, maybe, you have thick neck meat?).  Companies with profit motives also generally have an incentive to produce quality gear that has a good reputation (helps build future profits) and doesn't fail (helps reduce exposure to liabilities).  Companies not motivated by profits generally don't give a crap about quality.  Not sure why BD's profit motive somehow is bad, but Grivel's (and, yes, they do have a profit motive, too) is somehow sanctioned?

(7)  Don't get me wrong, I think a lot of Steve House and his work; I've been using his training methods for a couple of years now with great result.  However, attacks like this express ignorance and display a great deal of intolerance and hypocrisy that would not be tolerated if the attack was launched on the basis of virtually any other stereotype.

Addem Bursh · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 845
Jonny d wrote:

"Let’s pick on Black Diamond because they’re owned by soul-less venture capitalist."  I really hate to see this pure ad hominem attack based on ignorance coming from Steve House.

(1)  Black Diamond is owned by Clarus Corporation ;https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Diamond_Equipment

(2)  Clarus Corporation lists its major shareholders and shows Warren Kanders as holding 4.7M shares of Clarus; a market cap of $199M and stock price of $6.65/share implies roughly 30M shares outstanding, of which Mr. Kanders's shares constitute ~16.6%; https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/BDE?p=BDE;

(3)  83.4% of Clarus' shares are not owned by Warren Kanders, implying that they're owned generally by the public; shall we pick on the public for being soul-less, as well?  If so, anyone who has a retirement plan or owns a mutual fund ought to be looking in the mirror;

(4)  Warren Kanders is not a venture capitalist; he is a principal shareholder of a private equity (or private investment) company; venture capitalists invest in start-ups; private investment companies typically invest in going concerns; https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorhwang/2012/10/01/presidential-debate-primer-whats-the-difference-between-private-equity-and-venture-capital/#43c8f7703c45  Consider:  "In other words, private equity is usually about taking an existing company with existing products and existing cash flows, then restructuring that company to optimize its financial performance.  When private equity works right, it can save poorly-performing companies from bankruptcy and turn them into profitable enterprises."  Although I'm sure some folks out there would love to see BD go bankrupt, Kanders' investment and guidance may actually be helping BD grow and offer better products.

(5)  Why is the comment on the soullessness of venture capitalists allowed to go unchallenged when reference to just about any other stereotype in our society brings instant condemnation?  Just because people are engaged in business does not mean they should be judged harshly, even when they are venture capitalists.  Earning profits is a win-win for society-- each party to a transaction brings to the other something that the other values more-- creating additional value.  Ask Steve House-- it's exactly what he's pursuing with his whole Uphill Athlete gig and his TFTNA book- people give up their dollars to Steve because they value Steve's advice more than they value their dollars (and Steve accepts their dollars because he values the dollars more than he values his advice).  Basic economics.  Consider the further good they do in society apart from the profits they create.  https://techcrunch.com/2012/04/25/andreessen-and-horowitz-explain-why-the-firms-partners-are-donating-half-their-vc-income-to-charity/ 

(6)  Don't get me wrong, I think a lot of Steve House and his work; I've been using his training methods for a couple of years now with great result.  However, attacks like this express ignorance and display a great deal of intolerance and hypocrisy that would not be tolerated if the attack was launched on the basis of virtually any other stereotype.

yeah yeah that's all great, but is he smaller than you thought he'd be in person?

Long Ranger · · Boulder, Colorado · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 75
Will S wrote:

House is sponsored by Grivel. No conflict of interest or anything there, lol.

I'd take anyone's advice who has a financial stake in the companies in question, with a giant bag of salt.

It's literally the first thing he mentions in his answer: 

I will be as balanced as I can be, and will do my best to admit my biases as I am a professional climber and have had sponsorship contracts with Black Diamond 1996-2001 and Grivel from 2001 to the present. I

Beean · · Canmore, AB · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 0
ac1 wrote:

The current BD Helio skis are made in Austria by Blizzard.

To BD's spec. They're terrible. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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