The aptly-named Snaggletooth is the first horizontal monopoint crampon, coming to market in Fall 2015.

Who It’s For

When Black Diamond started designing the Snaggletooth they assumed it was going to be a high-end mixed alpine crampon. And they figured the market was going to be very small.

After a season of testing, it became clear that the Snaggletooth was not only an effective technical crampon for mixed climbing but it actually provided benefits over traditional vertical monopoints in many situations.

With the increased width of the point, there was less shearing than a vertical monopoint when punching up névé. The horizontal nature of the monopoint also reduced wobble on rock edges. With these advantages, even beginning alpinists (or those new to mixed) will find the Snaggletooth can grow with them.

After testing the Snaggletooth Conrad Anker gave this feedback:

The Snaggletooth combines the precision of a vertical monopoint with the dexterity of traditional horizontal crampons.  The best of both styles of crampons are doubled up in what is a ground breaking design. The torque capability in vertical cracks is nothing short of amazing.

-Conrad Anker

The Origin

Grassroots athlete Whit Magro, of Bozeman, took a pair of Sabertooths and chopped one of the front points.

He then went to BD asking for a production version of his mock-up. Since his altered Sabertooths were not designed as a monopoint, their strength was questionable.

Bill Belcourt, the Director of R&D, was reluctant. He believed the market was too small and he wasn’t sure it would even be possible to meet the necessary strength requirements.

Whit persisted.

Bill ultimately relented, but with a catch, “If you can get your prototype to the top of Cerro Torre, we’ll do it.”

Whit, who has climbed towers in Patagonia before, summitted and brought in a photo, akin to the ones below, to prove it.

Whit Magro Cerro Torre photos

So Black Diamond had to make good on their promise. The concept was simple, but a load of tweaking and research was still needed. Achieving the necessary strength requirements was no easy task. Moving metal as far as they did was a first in BD crampons.

During development they also tried different locations and angles of the monopoint. To test each iteration, they’d climb with one prototype on the right foot and a different one on the left. [Black Diamond employees often test their gear before or after work.]

Black Diamond Snaggletooth

The Details

  • Black Diamond calls their step-in binding design the “Pro” version. Only the “Pro” version will be offered the first season (Fall 2015), no “Clip” or “Strap” versions for now.

Pro Clip Crampon

 

  • The Snaggletooth will come equipped with dual-density anti-balling snow plates.

 Snaggletooth ABS plates

 

  • The center bar is flexible spring-steel to accommodate all types of boot soles, rockered or not.

Standard Flexible Center Bar

 

  • One of the reasons it was financially feasible to develop the Snaggletooth was the ability to use existing tooling and parts. The flexible center bar and binding system are utilized by many other crampons in the line. After the unique front and back profiles are laser cut from a flat piece of stainless steel, a pre-existing bending mold is used (see the crampon mold in action 45 seconds into the video below).

 

  • By far the most challenging part of developing this crampon was achieving the required strength. It was only made possible by heavily coining the horizontal monopoint. Fortunately, stainless steel is capable of plastically stretching enough to create the very deep coin (approx. 3mm) that’s necessary. Standard crampon steel would crack and break before the metal would move that far (roughly 2mm).

Snaggletooth Coined Point

 

  • Considering the challenges of building a horizontal monopoint, the Snaggletooth will debut at $209, which is equal to that of the Stinger crampon, BD’s traditional monopoint and their most expensive crampon in the line.

Black Diamond Crampon Prices

 

  • The laser cutting, steel bending and assembly are all done in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Bottom Line

After being a huge skeptic, Bill Belcourt (head of BD R&D) says the Snaggletooth is the only crampon he climbs on now. The horizontal monopoint platform appears to have a significant stability advantage over traditional vertical monopoints. With benefits for alpine and mixed climbers of all levels, the horizontal monopoint could become the most versatile monopoint on the market.

Can’t Wait?

You can get some Snaggletooth siblings like the Sabretooth, Cyborg, and Stinger: