Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons


While waiting for the group ahead of us to top out, I decided to try something new: mixed climbing. I examined the existing picks and scratches on the rock in front of me and got started. As I won the battle of learning a new technique, I returned to the ground to find that I had lost the war with my equipment. In the few desperate attempts I made to gain altitude on the climb, I folded the steel of one of my front points into a nubbin’. I guess I finally found the weakness in my trustworthy crampons.

I first learned of the Black Diamond Sabretooth crampons while on an expedition to South America. Our Jedi Master, aka climbing guide, displayed their versatility while ascending a vertical wall on the Cayambe Glacier. I soon discovered that horizontal, not vertical, front points were much more ideal for the varied terrain of the mountains. Upon returning home from the trip, I quickly went to my local outdoor shop and purchased my own pair.

As a steel and semi-rigid crampon, the Sabretooths come in two varieties; Pro and Clip. This option makes them compatible with boots that do or don’t accept a front bail. The crampons are constructed with horizontal points and perform surprisingly well on both alpine and waterfall ice. Finally, anti-balling plates provide a way to avoid snow build-up underfoot.

The Sabretooth crampons are great for all types of mountaineering routes. For example, I have climbed the deep blue waterfalls of East Vail, in addition to some classic routes in the famed Longs Peak/Meeker Cirque. Furthermore, I have made ascents with them strapped to both leather and plastic boots. Regardless of the season and terrain, they are easily adjustable, have good shear resistance, and transition well between rock, ice, and snow. The one drawback I have discovered is on hard and brittle ice. Overall, the Sabretooths are well suited to a variety of landscapes and conditions.

As with ice tools and screws, crampons do require some maintenance. Fortunately, keeping the Sabretooths sharp and functional is reasonably straightforward. Due to the design of the front points, I have found it relatively easy to replicate the chiseled pattern when filing. The most important thing to remember: use a hand file instead of power tools. Black Diamond describes the process thoroughly on their website.

Crampons are essential gear when seeking out snow and ice routes in the mountains. They are just as important as an ice axe and crampons. The Black Diamond Sabretooths are an excellent choice for all-mountain pursuits. And if you decide to tackle some mixed climbing, just make sure you are up to date on that filing technique.

Crampon Specs:

Price: $159.00

Weight: 2 lbs 10 oz

Models: Pro (boots with front toe welt) Clip (boots w/o toe welt)

Material: Steel


Horizontal fixed front points, aggressive second points with serrated edges; French style o-ring strap system; Anti-Balling System included.

Sizing: One size fits all to 12. Sizes above 12 require extender ($19.95-$24.95)

Uses: Ice, Mixed, Alpine

Pros – good all-around crampon, easy to maintain

Cons – sub-par on hard and brittle ice, steel may bend or fold on prolonged mixed routes


Black Diamond Equipment, LTD.

2084 East 3900 South

Salt Lake City, UT 84124

p: 801.278.5552

f: 801.278.5544

Writing & Photography By:

Leslie Kehmeier


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