The Black Diamond Neve Crampon is one of several lightweight, aluminium crampons we stock. Aimed at ski touring and snow/glacier walking, it falls in the middle between beefier mountaineering crampons such as the Black Diamond Serac and lighter weight walking crampons such as the Kahtoola K10.
The first thing that strikes you about the Neve is their weight – or lack of it – weighing in at 576g. This is heavier than, say, the Camp XLC 390, but has the advantage of coming with anti-balling plates and a steel (more durable) linking bar, improving the performance significantly if you’re pushing the limits of the crampon. They’re much lighter than an all round mountaineering crampon such as the Black Diamond Serac. This means you’re much more likely to carry them ‘just in case’, meaning they’re a perfect choice for alpine rock routes where you don’t expect much or any snow but would like the security of having crampons with you without the weight penalty. This also applies to ski mountaineering routes where you expect to spend most of the day on skis, but want a pair of boot crampons for the odd steeper section.
One major disadvantage of aluminium crampons is their durability, especially if using them on hard ice or rock. Whilst I wouldn’t exactly recommend dry tooling in these, they have proved surprisingly durable, dealing with occasional use on rocky sections or rock strewn glaciers with little more than scratches to show for it.
In their intended use (low angle snow and ice) the Neve’s have proved fantastic, providing more than adequate grip even on hard ice and staying securely in place. I have the Strap version of the crampons, which are easily attached on all footwear – I’ve used them mainly on B2 boots, but also on everything from approach shoes to ski boots – flip flops might be pushing it too far though! I love how versatile these are, from summer alpine approaches in trainers to winter ski mountaineering. The linking bar is very easy to adjust, even with gloves on, to switch between different footwear. The Pro version has both front and back bails, which will mean a more secure fit on ski boots and compatible mountaineering boots.
Taking them as my only crampons on a six-month climbing trip really pushed them to their limit. On steep, hard glacial ice (around 45-50 degrees), the crampon occasionally came off the front of my boot when kicking the front points in. This was easily fixed by simply pulling it back in to place, and the crampons sufficed – but I wouldn’t have liked to be in any more serious terrain with them. This really was pushing them far past their intended use, so I have to say I’m impressed they made it that far! With the Pro version I wouldn’t expect this to happen as readily.
The Neves definitely aren’t a substitute for a heavier weight, steel mountaineering crampon. However, for their intended purpose as a lightweight walking and ski mountaineering crampon, they do the job perfectly, with the chance to push them a little further than some of the other lightweight crampons on the market.