6 Of The Best: Crampons

Will Harris chooses six crampons for six different occasions, from ice climbing to winter walking…

Petzl Dart

Technical mixed climbs place big demands on the gear used on them, and this is just as true for crampons as it is for ice axes. Sharp front points are needed to work well on the snow and ice found on mixed routes, as well as biting better on the rock found on mixed pitches. The challenge comes in finding a crampon that won’t have these points too quickly blunted by contact with rock. Petzl’s Dart crampon solves this problem by combining a burly design with a particularly tough metal, and whilst the front point can’t be replaced as with other models, the front of the unit can be. In our opinion mono points (single front points) work better than dual points for mixed, making the Darts, rather than the Dart-twins our choice in this category. The Darts don’t come with anti-balling plates, but Petzl’s Lynx heel plate can be added to the Dart’s heel.

More info: www.petzl.com

Black Diamond Cyborg

The Black Diamond Cyborg is a beefy technical crampon that works particularly well on ice. When climbing on steep snow and ice, opting for a crampon with two front points can make things feel much more stable, whereas some climbers prefer to choose the extra precision facilitated by mono-points. With either front point set-up, it is important that the secondary points, the next row of points back, also engage with the ice to give extra stability. Steep, hard ice demands that crampons are particularly sharp, and the fact that the modular front points can be easily replaced means that the whole unit will stay sharper for longer. Whether you choose to set the Cyborgs up with mono or dual points, the hardwearing, well-sized secondary points, together with the simple but effective attachment system, make for a pair of confidence-inspiring crampons.

More info: www.blackdiamondequipment.com

Petzl Lynx

With the Lynx, Petzl have delivered a crampon that climbs well on moderate and technical ground, is light weight, and is extremely versatile. We have previously tested the Lynx on steep ice, hard Scottish mixed, and on everything from Alpine PDs to Alaskan test-pieces, and have found them to perform well everywhere. Where we think that they particularly shine is on technical alpine routes, where the choice to set them up as mono-points means that they climb well on both ice and mixed, as well of dealing with moderate terrain on approaches and descents. Our one reservation about the Lynx is that whilst they climb well on steep, rocky mixed ground, because the non-replaceable secondary points are made from the same softer metal as the heel unit they wear out relatively quickly if the crampons are used for lots of Scottish-style mixed climbing.

More info: www.petzl.com

Grivel G12

Classic mountaineering involves everything from walking on steep snow, tackling precipitous bullet-hard glacial ice slopes, front-pointing up moderate ice pitches and climbing rocky mixed ground. A crampon that can do all of the above needs to be simple, versatile and hardwearing. Grivel’s G12 is a perennial favourite with all of these qualities in spades, and weighs in at a very reasonable 900g. Equally at home on low-to-mid grade Scottish winter routes and big alpine routes, they are a true workhorse of a crampon. They have also been used to great effect on some very difficult pitches in the big mountains, showing that a new, sharp pair will work well on steeper ice and mixed too. If you are searching for one pair of crampons for a wide variety of activities then look no further. A wide fitting attachment option and a variety of attachment choices all add to the versatility.

More info: www.grivel.com

Black Diamond Neve

Ski touring is all about the skiing, and skiing is much more fun when you are carrying a lighter rucksack. The perfect ski crampon is then super light-weight, but also hardy enough to actually be of use when the going gets steep. A ten-point crampon made from aluminium, The Black Diamond Neve is tough enough to work well on the steep snow often encountered when ski touring, but it you are going to be front pointing on steep ice or dealing with rocky mixed ground a burlier steep crampon would be more suitable, albeit at an inevitably higher weight. The Neve comes with two attachment options, with both a strap-on and clip-on version supplied meaning that they can be used with a variety of footwear, making them a good choice for those who would also find a lightweight pair of crampons for approaching summer rock routes useful.

More info: www.blackdiamondequipment.com

Grivel G10

Those aiming to climb steeper pitches will choose to head out onto the mountains wearing very stiff B3 rated boots, complete with heal and toe cleats for crampons to clip onto. When heading out winter walking it is more efficient, and often much more comfortable, to wear a softer, semi-flexible pair of boots, often without these attachment cleats. To attach a pair of crampons to these softer boots the crampon needs to be reasonably flexible, with a sturdy system for strapping them to the boot. Grivel’s G10 does this well. Unlike when climbing steeper ground, where secondary front points are needed, a winter walker needs only 10 points on their crampons, a simple, light-weight design, as found on the G10. As when buying crampons for any use, it’s always worth taking your boots in to the shop to check that they are compatible.

More info: www.grivel.com

Trek & Mountain’s Mountaineering Editor, Will Harris, is currently on the British Mountain Guides training scheme. He is an experienced alpinist with numerous cutting-edge expeditions to Patagonia, Alaska and Nepal under his belt.

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