Crampons

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Rigid step-in "front-point" crampons used for vertical ice climbing Crampon.JPG
Rigid step-in "front-point" crampons used for vertical ice climbing

A crampon is a traction device that is attached to footwear to improve mobility on snow and ice during ice climbing. [1] Besides ice climbing, crampons are also used for secure travel on snow and ice, such as crossing glaciers, snowfields and icefields, ascending snow slopes, and scaling ice-covered rock.

Contents

There are three main attachment systems for footwear: step-in, hybrid, and strap bindings. The first two require boots with welts, or specialized mountaineering boots with dedicated front and rear lugs, as a cam-action lever attaches the crampon to the heel. The last type (strap bindings) are more versatile and can adapt to virtually any boot or shoe, but often do not fit as precisely as the other two types. [2]

Oscar Eckenstein designed the first 10-point crampon in 1908, dramatically reducing the need for step cutting. This design was then made commercially available by the Italian Henry Grivel. [ citation needed ]

Characteristics

Yellow/grey plastic "anti-balling" plates prevent snow from building up Strap-on crampon.JPG
Yellow/grey plastic "anti-balling" plates prevent snow from building up
Walking crampons Aa walking crampons.jpg
Walking crampons
A mountaineering boot equipped with a traditional 12-point glacier/trekking crampon Mointain Boot with Crampons.jpg
A mountaineering boot equipped with a traditional 12-point glacier/trekking crampon

Materials

Crampons are made of steel alloy, light weight aluminium, or a combination of the two. Lighter weight crampons are popular for alpine ski touring where demands are generally lower and light weight a premium.

Points

Early 10-point crampons lacked forward angled spikes and thus required step cutting on steep terrain. In the 1930s two additional forward-slanting points were added, making them exceptional for mountaineering and glacier travel and beginning a revolution in front pointing. There is currently a range of models, including specialized crampons with as many as 14 points and models with single points for ice climbing.

Attachment

Crampons are fastened to footwear by means of a binding system. Improved attachment systems – such as a cam action "step-in" system similar to a ski binding and particularly well adapted to plastic technical mountaineering boots - have widely increased crampon use. Crampons also use a full "strap-in" system and a "hybrid" binding that features a toe strap at the front and a heel lever at the back. [3]

Anti-balling

To prevent snow from balling up under crampons, especially in temperatures around freezing, most models can be fitted with plastic or rubber "anti-balling" systems to reduce build-up. Rubber models use flexion to repel snow while plastic anti-balling plates employ a hydrophobic surface to prevent adhesion.

Grades

Crampons are graded C1, C2 and C3 relative to their flexibility and general compatibility with different styles of boots. [4] No crampons are suitable for B0 boots (flexible walking boots).

Crampon / boot compatibility
TypeUseB0 boot (flexible)B1 boot (semi stiff)B2 boot (fully stiff)B3 boot
(technical climbing boot)
C1relatively flexible - for walkingNoYesYesYes
C2versatile - for both walking and mountaineeringNoNoYesYes
C3for technical mountaineeringNoNoNoYes

Ski crampons

Specialized "ski crampons" are employed in ski mountaineering on hard snow and ice. Far more common in the Alps than in the United States, these ski crampons are known by their European names: Harscheisen (German), couteaux (French) and coltelli (Italian)[ citation needed ], literally French and Italian for "knives" in those languages.

Microspikes

While crampons generally have a solid frame, large spikes, and may only be attached to a mountaineering boot, microspikes typically are flexible rubber or metal chains with more, smaller spikes. Since crampons are tighter and have larger spikes, they are typically used for mountaineering on steep and dense snow or glacial ice in order to maintain strong traction and avoid falls, whereas microspikes may be attached to multiple types of shoes and are generally used for hiking on flatter surfaces such as snow or even gravel or dirt.

See also

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Hiking boot

Hiking (walking) boots are footwear specifically designed for protecting the feet and ankles during outdoor walking activities such as hiking. They are one of the most important items of hiking gear, since their quality and durability can determine a hiker's ability to walk long distances without injury. Hiking boots are constructed to provide comfort for walking considerable distance over rough terrain. Boots that protect the hiker's feet and heel are recommended. Hiking boots give ankle support and are fairly stiff. A less popular alternative is to use light trainers with thin soles. Footwear should be neither too loose nor too tight, to help prevent blisters and sore feet. Hiking socks that wick sweat from the feet, provide warmth, and cushion the feet are recommended and a thin, inner sock may also help. Most hiking boots are also designed for other outdoor activities such as backpacking, climbing, mountaineering, and hunting.

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Cycling shoe

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Ice tool

An ice tool is a specialized elaboration of the modern ice axe, used in ice climbing, mostly for the more difficult configurations. Ice tools are used two to a person for the duration of a pitch, and thus in some circumstances such as top-rope-anchored climbs, a pair may be shared among two or more people, where only one of them at a time is climbing. In contrast a classical "ice axe" is used one to a person for the hours or days a party is traveling across snow or glacier. In communities where it is common to refer to an "ice tool" simply as an "ice axe", classic "ice axes" are often referred to as "traveling axes", "walking axes", or "general mountaineering axes" to distinguish them from "tools".

Cleat (shoe) Projection on sole of shoe

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Spademan binding

Spademan was a type of ski binding, one of a number of "plate bindings" that were popular in alpine skiing during the 1970s. It used a bronze plate screwed into the bottom of the boot as its connection point, held to the ski by a clamp-like mechanism that grasped the side of the plate. Unlike conventional bindings, the Spademan could release in any direction, in response to any force or torque. It provided greatly improved protection compared to contemporary designs, which generally allowed release of the toe to the sides and heel directly forward, keeping the foot attached in any other fall direction.

The Grivel Scarpa Binding, or GSB, was created in 2004 as a design collaboration between the companies Scarpa, an Italian shoe and boot manufacturer, and Grivel, an Italian manufacturer of mountaineering crampons, ice axes and other mountaineering equipment. The system involves combining a specially designed mountaineering boot sole unit with a tailored crampon design.

Ice cleat

Ice cleats are a contraption, affixed to a shoe or boot, with small spikes underneath. They are used to avoid sliding on slippery surfaces like ice or snow. Ice cleats are attached to footwear with either straps over the heel and toe or a single strip over the foot. Not to be mistaken for crampons used for ice climbing, ice cleats are much smaller and are commonly used in arctic areas.

References

  1. Cox, Steven M.; Kris Fulsaas, eds. (2003). Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills (7 ed.). Seattle: The Mountaineers. ISBN   0-89886-828-9.
  2. "Crampons: How to Choose". REI. Retrieved 2014-02-11.
  3. "Crampon Attachment". Crampons Guide.
  4. "The Hike Boot Grading System and the Crampon Grading System". H2G2.