Everyone, while publishing the following in the midst of the Steve Romeo memorials and such feels a bit funny, I thought it good to shoehorn it in. I think Steve himself would have approved as he was a mad-dog himself for this kind of click bait. Yeah Steve, we blog… but I’ll keep the front-page version short.
Following released by Dynafit, March 14 2012:
“Dynafit has seen a recent increase in the number of Radical binding climbing aid breakages reported by our dealers and consumers. We take these reports very seriously and have looked into it extensively, both in Europe and in America.
(Editor’s note: To be clear, what they’re talking about is a situation where the climbing lifter on the Radical heel unit breaks clean off, taking the top plate of the heel unit with it.)
The good news is the problem does not appear to be a serial or safety issue. At this point, the problem is being seen in a very limited number of cases (0.17% of all Radical bindings sold to date). It is not a safety concern when the climbing aid breaks. But, we regret every single case and are super sorry as we know how challenging it is to be in the backcountry with broken gear.
In researching the cause, we have determined a small number of the climbing aids are experiencing “hydrogen embrittlement” that causes the metal plate in the climbing aid apparatus to be weaker than designed. For you engineers out there, here is the definition of hydrogen embrittlement: “The process by which various metals, most importantly high-strength steel, become brittle and fracture following exposure to hydrogen. Hydrogen embrittlement is often the result of unintentional introduction of hydrogen into susceptible metals during forming or finishing operations.” Hydrogen embrittlement cannot be completely excluded from the manufacturing process, but we have improved our production process to further reduce cases of this happening. This production change is in place for all future production.
Dynafit stands behind our products 100%, and we will work with our dealers to replace and repair all affected bindings at no charge to the dealer or consumer. If you have experienced this problem, please contact Dynafit customer service at 303-444-0446 or email@example.com. We will issue a return authorization to repair any broken climbing aids or send the necessary parts at no cost under warranty.
And rest assured, we will continue to monitor the issue very closely. We appreciate your attention to this matter. And as always, we appreciate your support.”
Lou sezz: I have no reason to doubt this is a problem Dynafit is having with a small number of bindings. Nonetheless, as they allude to in the press release, gear that breaks in the backcountry is a drag. I have a fairly extensive take coming on the Radical binding situation. Till then, I’d offer that if you use the binding fairly hard and have not broken the heel lifter off, you almost certainly have a pair of bindings without the sub-standard part that causes the breakage. In other words, if they do have the defect they break quite easily. At least that’s my take at this time. Testing is ongoing.
In terms of the big picture, one does have to wonder if perhaps the binding should have been designed with stronger parts in the first place (after all the “freeride” hype), so manufacturing defects are less consequential. Doing this of course involves tradeoffs such as cost and weight. But the thought does occur to me.
To be fair to Dynafit and not over-bake this issue, I considered not publishing any photos. But images of this breakage are all over the web now and it seemed ridiculous for me to try and explain all this in text and not illustrate. So see photos below.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.