Cassin Blade Runner
The Blade Runner may be the most technically advanced, versatile crampon yet devised.
The Blade Runner may be the most technically advanced, versatile crampon yet devised. The front chassis is chromoly steel, while the heel plate is thinner, lighter, sharper, stainless. Its footprint is that of an asymmetric rock shoe. Instead of presenting a standard ironing-board-flat platform, the Blade Runner’s heel plate steps up at the instep to match the rise in the heel of your boot. The slider bar that lengthens or shortens the crampon is part of the heel piece, eliminating the connector bar for extra rigidity. The Blade Runner is also modular, and this is its greatest feat—you can use vertical monos, or dual monos or horizontal frontpoints, all on one crampon.
All versions of the Blade Runner cost the same and come with a standard step-in toe bail and a hybrid with a nylon clasp for boots with lug-less toes. Yet more modularity!
The monopoint with step-in binding I used for water ice of all angles and old-school mixed climbing. The hybrid with horizontal points I tested on alpine ice, neve and some vert ice.
The vertical frontpoints climb like you’d expect: secure and precise on hard ice and rock. The horizontal points, which I used with the hybrid binding, are wide and act as little shovels in hard snow and neve.
Secondary points are long and close to the frontpoints, making a solid front platform and stabilizing edging. The side points are also long, aggressive and secure on ice lumps, ledges and deformities. The Blade Runner puts a lot of reassuring, toothy steel underfoot, which is great most of the time but felt “tippy” walking around.
The hybrid binding is among the most solid I’ve used. I got some wobble, but not as much as expected with this type of binding. A stout steel cage connects the nylon binding to the crampon frame, but lifts the boot 1/8 inch off the crampon. This lift, combined with the long crampon points, put my boot higher off the ice than I was used to.
Adjusting the instep bar for the heel-toe fit is a push-button function and takes about a second. I tested the Blade Runner on the Asolo Eiger, Scarpa Rebel Ultra and Scarpa Phantom Guide. Fit was good, but it took extra fiddling to get the “step” on the heel piece instep to mesh with the boot sole.
This article was published in Rock and Ice issue 232 (February 2016)
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