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Crampons straps, step ins, or hybrid


Original Post
Thumer · · SLC, UT · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 230

I just bought some Mammut Advanced High Gtx boots for climbing Mount Rainier this summer (Disappointment Cleaver route). I used plastic rentals with strap on BD contact crampons last year. I thought the crampons worked fine, but I didn't really like the big clunky plastic boots all that much. The boots I bought have toe and heel welts so I suppose all the binding types would work. I was thinking about just getting the strap on ones like I used last year since they worked fine. I was able to cinch them down pretty tight, and I didn't notice the crampons moving at all.

Are there benefits to the step in vs strap on vs hybrid crampons? Most of the articles I read just explained the compatibility with different boots. Nothing really compared the performance of each type. Also, anyone have experience with which crampons work best with these specific boots?

I will mostly do general mountaineering, but I wouldn't be surprised if I tried ice climbing in the next few years too. It would be nice to have something that is little bit versatile.

Sterling Falconer · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0

I would shoot for the Petzl Sarkens. They are an all around crampon for general mountaineering and can climb vertical ice due to the 2 front points being a hybrid. For ice climbing it's kind of mandatory to have a front bail on your crampon for more stability. The crampons come with both a front bail for b3 boots and a flex toe bail for b2 boots. Enjoy!

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,745

I'd suggest you grab this guys set-and-a-half of Sarkens.
mountainproject.com/v/so-mu…

Chris C. · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 266

Get full auto crampons. Don't go with the straps if you don't care about putting them on boots without welts. The straps can have ice build up on longer routes like the D.C., which eventually can loosen them.

I've got Petzl Sarkens and Vasaks, and they are both similar but have slightly different uses. Sarkens are easier to go over rock with because of the T-points. They are harder to ice climb with because the T-points need to offset more ice when kicking in. Vasaks are easier to ice climb with, but if you send a lot of time front pointing on the rock they are a little annoying.

Either way, on a route like the D.C. you are doing to be good.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483

For general mountaineering I say go with a semi auto (strap front and lever on the heel). The reason being that
on those crazy early alpine starts when you are dazed and confused it's dead easy to put them on properly. Well actually I don't think it's possible to screw up. They do ice up as Chris said, but so does a keeper strap on a full auto pon.

fitting a full auto PROPERLY (almost no one does) is a bit of a pita. Lining up the toe welt and getting the heel of the boot tightly in tabs on the rear of the pon isn't always straight forward.
Strap on pons aren't as secure for long term front pointing and make a pressure point on top of your foot.

Don't take advice on the net about which brand to buy, you need to buy what fits your boot. Get to a store, make sure the heel tabs of the pon securely hit your boot with the rearward points lined up at the back of your boot. You need them tightly jammed into the boot, don't rely on the heel lever to secure your crampon laterally. You need the rear points relatively flush with the back of your boot for plunge stepping. If you're in a bit of glop over firmer snow and your boot sticks out past the crampon frame much the boot can hit the firm snow and not let the rear points engage. Then you're going for a ride.

Also consider number of points. Look at where the secondary points come to in relation to the front of your boot. Typically 12 point crampons will he designed for more technical terrain and have secondary points further forward.
The further forward they are the more stable a platform you have to stand on when front pointing (less calf pump). Downside is the points get in the way of your foot rolling on firm snow on flatter ground.
My aluminum grivels walk great, suck for long front pointing. 12 point petzl vasaks make hard 45-70 degeee terrain a breeze.

Chris C. · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 266

^^The difference between the strap-on icing up and the auto icing up is that when the strap-on ices up, especially when wet ice builds up under the straps, it can loosen the strap altogether. This can cause the whole crampon to detach from the boot. This is less likely to happen if you get the straps on really well, but it seems that most new mountaineers struggle with that. I find well fitted autos significantly easier to put on while mentally hazy as well. Of course this is personal preference for everybody. However, most new mountaineers, which I'm assuming the OP is, struggle with putting on the straps.

I've personally never seen well fitted autos on a boot in good condition fall off. I've seen a significant number of strap-on crampons fall off people for numerous reasons. For people who keep their boot welts in good condition, I can't imagine a reason to ever go with anything but an auto crampon.

The reason I am posting all of this is because when I first started out, I had a crusty guide tell me that straps were the way to go. I struggled to get them on for the first few months of using them. I ended up dropping another $150 getting autos and loved them. I get the feeling that straps are now just recommended because "that's the way things have been".

For brands and models, totally agree. They have to match the boots well. I've found the Sportiva boots and Petzl crampons for really well together.

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

Full auto on leather boots. I have found my feet are substantially colder when I wear my hybrid crampons. I attribute this to the extra straps diminishing circulation.

The full auto have a keeper strap but it doesn't need to be cinched tight.

Thumer · · SLC, UT · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 230

Thanks for all the input. I didn't think about the straps icing up. I will look at the auto's and hybrids. Sterling mentioned the Petzl Sarken comes with a front bail and flex toe bail. Does this mean you can change the binding parts to work as a full auto or a hybrid? Or did he mean you have the option to buy it with a bail or a flex toe bail?

Chris C. · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 266
Thumer wrote:Thanks for all the input. I didn't think about the straps icing up. I will look at the auto's and hybrids. Sterling mentioned the Petzl Sarken comes with a front bail and flex toe bail. Does this mean you can change the binding parts to work as a full auto or a hybrid? Or did he mean you have the option to buy it with a bail or a flex toe bail?
The modularity of Petzl cramponss depends on the generation. The new generation can swap between bail types (within the last year). The older generation needs to have the whole front element swapped out, which is usually more expensive than it's worth.
Thumer · · SLC, UT · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 230

That seems like a really good feature. Thanks for the info.

stolo · · Shelby, NC · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 110

Seems like the hardest part with autos is dealing with the extra strap length on the hybrid crampons. Don't want to cut mine bc I know when I do someone will want to borrow them who doesn't have toe welts. I am using Petzl Lynx.

Sterling Falconer · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0

The new Sarkens come packaged with both bails for a boot with and without toe welts and also comes with anti-ball plates.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483
Chris C. wrote:For people who keep their boot welts in good condition, I can't imagine a reason to ever go with anything but an auto crampon.
That's the problem in the cascades though, if you do alpine routes frequently and don't bring trail runners you'll wear the sole through right up to the welt in short order. When there isn't rubber there at the tip to support the crampon the front section can pivot on this point, it flexes more and becomes less secure. I've seen this happen with numerous set ups. If your front bail is truly a proper fit to your boot and the rear heel tabs tight to the sole you won't loose a pon due to this while climbing, but only about 25% of the people I see out ACTUALLY have a proper fitting boot and pon.

The additional flex still happens with a semi auto pon, but since the front tabs hit the outside edges of the sole/boot you don't have to worry about side to side play. For general mountaineering sem autos work great IMO, I don't recommend full straps either.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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