Petzl Sarken Review – Quiver-of-One Crampons

I use the Petzl Sarken for all that involves slippery surfaces.

I used to have a quiver of crampons. I had different crampons for different kinds of climbing and conditions.

Today, I mostly rely on my Sarken crampons for almost all snow and ice climbing.

Climbing around Chamonix all summer, I did quite a few mountaineering classics. As the epi-center of alpine climbing, the routes around Chamonix have all the good ingredients of alpine climbing.

The Sarken is made of slim but robust steel. And, with 12, sharp points, it crosses glaciers, then climbs rock ridges, ice-choked gullies and bergschrunds with ease.

The 2 front points combine a flat and a vertical serrated style, in effect forming a T-shape – good for every demand.

Thanks to good penetration, they work great for kicking steps into ice and they also march along with solid purchase on snow.

Karen Bockel climbing in Chamonix with her petzl sarken crampons

Karen’s Petzl Sarken crampons marching up the ultra-classic Cosmiques Arete on the Aiguille de Midi, up above Chamonix, France. Photo credit Mary White

The Petzl Sarken Leverlock system is part of what makes them so user friendly:

You can switch out both the heel and the toe bindings. This allows you to match them up to any style of mountaineering boot (climbing or skiing). I often use the semi-automatic version with a welt-compatible heel piece and a toe strap. This system is great for boots like the Scarpa Ribelle or the La Sportiva Trango.

It’s really important that crampons fit well. Especially rocky sections of climbing can put a lot of abuse on crampon attachment systems. Tweaking your front points onto small edges or into cracks will show you in a heartbeat whether your crampons have a tight fit, or not. . . I am always happy having the Sarken on my boot with their solid connection from boot to steel to rock.

In addition to great performance, the weight of the Sarken also fits the bill. At 870 g, they are light enough to go for an easy ride in the backpack when I’m climbing rock walls with glacier approaches.

Yay for the Sarken: a ‘quiverkiller’ of crampons that comes along on all my big alpine adventures. But don’t just hear it just from me: Try a pair of Petzl Sarkens in any of our mountaineering programs.