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How to Sharpen Extremely Dull Crampons?

Original Post
Jake Cramer 1 · · State College, PA · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 80

So this summer I scored the illustrious position of equipment/inventory manager for my university's outdoor program. Part of this job is doing basic repairs and upkeep on a literal warehouse of gear. Apparently the managers before me didn't realize that crampons actually work best when kinda sharp, and they've been neglected for quite some time (think: edge of a nickel). So, do any of you guys know how to efficiently sharpen a little over a dozen pairs of crampons? Grinder maybe, or a dremmel? I use a file to keep my personal pair sharp, but I think my arm would fall off if I sharpened 250+ points with it...

Parker H · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 0

Sounds like a good initiation for new members. Be careful with a grinder wheel it is really easy to take a lot of material off quickly. Also kinda hard to reach anything but the front points with most machines.

Jon H · · MD/DC · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 121

You theoretically COULD use a dremel but you run the very real risk of overheating the metal and ruining the temper and permanently softening the crampons, effectively destroying their lifespan. Do not proceed with a dremel without a method in place to prevent overheating.  Every 5-10 seconds of sharpening, drop the crampon in a bucket of ice water for a couple seconds.

That said, I have to assume that guide services and other large outfitters all use power tools to sharpen crampons and other points for the exact reasons you said.  So basically, proceed, but with caution. And go slowly. 

alpinejason · · Minneapolis · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 175

Top rope ice climbing activities only? I'd probably only sharpening and regularly maintain the front and secondary points , 4 points per crampon. 

Put some muscle into it. You have 5+ months until you need them again. 

Also budget for replacements. Crampons have a finite life. 

Jake Cramer 1 · · State College, PA · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 80

Thanks for the suggestions! 

Alpinejason- yep, the most adventurous activities these will ever take part in is toproping WI3. We also guide winter trips to some peaks in the adirondacks though, so sharpness for hiking is mandatory. 

We've got the budget to replace them, and that's probably what'll end up happening. But if it's possible to prolong their lifespan I'd rather spend the money elsewhere.

Tylerpratt · · Litchfield, Connecticut · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 35

Don't take material off the sides of the crampons spikes. Only sharpen the crampon spike by going from the front or the back. If you take off the side the metal will become far weaker and break or dull much more quickly.

So only sharpen on the already cut sides NOT the flat sides...if that makes anymore sense

Luc-514 · · Montreal, Quebec · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 9,087


Braking points, the ones perpendicular to the line of travel when walking straight, are sharpenned from the flat face of the point, not the narrow sides.

clint helander · · anchorage, alaska · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 611

how to sharpen completely dull crampons: buy some new ones.

Terry Parker · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined May 2006 · Points: 0

A good flat file that cuts well, a shady outside spot to sit, assume at least 2 beers per pair of crampons.

The Word · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 0

Easy and fast sharpening of picks and crampons: You just need a bit of extra leverage. Holding them in your hands and filing is frustrating compared to this simple technique. 

Use a quality hand file and one of these handy wood clamps.

Put a magazine down on a sturdy table corner. (It provides grip and protection for the table.)

Clamp a crampon or ice tool down to the corner with this style wood clamp and get to it. It holds them solid.

It is simple and very effective. It only takes a few file passes to to get good results. Highly portable for road trips. Cheap. And won't mess with the temper.

It is best not to use power tools. The heat can change the temper of the metal. Making it more brittle. As mentioned above, it usually isn't that easy with a grinder anyway. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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