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New Ice Climbing Set-Up


Original Post
Bryan · · Minneapolis, MN · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 346

Hello all. I think I'm finally going to get some ice gear this year. I've been doing research and have a bunch of questions. Basically I am trying to get one set of boots, crampons, and tools that can do most things. Around here we have mostly vertical or near vertical ice (with some mixed too that I'm not looking to get into yet). I do want some of this stuff to be versatile enough to transition to alpine climbing/glacier travel. The only thing I have on my agenda in the near future is a trip to the Cascades in summer which my friend said I'll want crampons and a tool for the glacier crossing (direct north ridge of mount stuart) - so if some of this gear can work for that too that would be awesome. I could definitely see myself getting ready for Ranier and some moderate mountaineering in the next couple years. That kind of stuff will likely be no more than once a year so I'm gearing the purchase mostly towards ice. Any input to my set-up would be great.

Boots (I would prefer to stick with Scarpa, I can get a decent deal right now): I think I've pretty much decided on the Mont Blanc GTX (non-pro model). I was having trouble deciding between this and the pro model but from what I've read the standard model may work a bit better for ice climbing?

Crampons: Here's where I'm having some trouble deciding. I had pretty much decided on the BD Cyborg Pro but I'm having second thoughts. My second major choice is the CAMP Bladerunner but I've heard those are pretty heavy. From what I understand both of these should be good on ice (with the bladerunner maybe being a bit better on ice? and more customizable?) but not so great for glacier travel and the like (although I'm sure they would work just fine for the occasional use). The other option I was looking at was the BD sabretooth or snaggletooth (better for glaciers but less performance on vertical ice maybe?) Crampons are the item that are most in the air for me.

Tools: I am pretty much deciding between the CAMP X-All Mountain and the X-Dreams, and I'm leaning towards the X-All because it seems like they will be great for everything except extremely steep or overhanging ice which I don't know how much of that I'll actually be climbing. I could definitely be talked into the X-Dreams though if people think they would be significantly better for my application. Either of those seem less than ideal for glacier travel so I think I would pick up a single BD Raven Pro for glaciers/self-arrest for that trip to the Cascades and other such stuff.

If I end up being able to do all that I want with one pair of boots, one set of tools (with a single piolet for glaciers) and then if I end up wanting two sets of crampons one for technical ice and one for glaciers/alpine) I think that would be efficient enough to justify. The crampons seem to be the place where it is hardest to get a one-tool-fits-all choice, but I'm sure it will work out just fine.

Thanks in advance for the input.

Benjamin Mitchell · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 0

Sounds like you know what you want, but my one recommendation would be to see if you can rent, demo, or borrow some of the gear you are considering before buying it. This is mainly important with boots, you might think Scarpas fit perfectly or terribly depending on the shape of your foot. 

Seth Kane · · Bozeman, Montana · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 111

The snaggletooths are probably the best do it all crampon. They climb well enough on ice that I don't notice the difference vs. g20s unless the ice is really brittle. They of course have all the normal BD stainless steel crampon cracking issues, so replace somewhat regularly. That said, I pretty much only use my snaggletooths on technical alpine routes, reaching for g20s for cragging and irvis hybrids for lower angle alpine. 

 I've moved away from CAMP tools after owning both the x-dreams and x-alls for a few years due to the durability of the picks, it's nice not to have to replace them 3 times a season. They climb great though. I would go with a more technical tool (x-dreams, nomics, or tech machines) as an "all around tool" as they perform much better on steep ice and mixed, about the same on low angle ice, and much worse on snow.  Add less technical tools later if you find yourself climbing a lot of lower angle alpine ice routes. 

 The only thing mont blancs (and sportiva nepals etc.) do well is durability- there's boots that will be lighter, climb better and be warmer. Of course those boots are more expensive, but buying used is pretty reasonable. Depending on where you climb your feet will get cold on cold days in mont blancs but something like the phantom tech is going to be too warm for summer alpine climbing.  

cdawg lion · · BeaUTAHfull · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 71

Boots 

Crampons: Here's where I'm having some trouble deciding. I had pretty much decided on the BD Cyborg Pro but I'm having second thoughts. My second major choice is the CAMP Bladerunner but I've heard those are pretty heavy. From what I understand both of these should be good on ice (with the bladerunner maybe being a bit better on ice? and more customizable?) but not so great for glacier travel and the like (although I'm sure they would work just fine for the occasional use). The other option I was looking at was the BD sabretooth or snaggletooth (better for glaciers but less performance on vertical ice maybe?) Crampons are the item that are most in the air for me.

Tools: I am pretty much deciding between the CAMP X-All Mountain and the X-Dreams, and I'm leaning towards the X-All because it seems like they will be great for everything except extremely steep or overhanging ice which I don't know how much of that I'll actually be climbing. I could definitely be talked into the X-Dreams though if people think they would be significantly better for my application. Either of those seem less than ideal for glacier travel so I think I would pick up a single BD Raven Pro for glaciers/self-arrest for that trip to the Cascades and other such stuff.

Boots, get something that has a good fit and allows you to wear a larger sock if need be.

Crampons. First off, If you are planning on climbing any vertical ice, DO NOT buy crampons for glacier travel (sabre/snaggle). I have the Cyborg pros and they are great for vertical ice, they can be modified to a single point for mixed (climbed M6 with them), but they will be just a bit heavier for glacier travel (still cheaper than 2 pairs). So either the black diamond cyborgs/stinger, petzl darts/lynx/dartwin, camp bladerunners will be similar enough for you.

Tools. I still have a pair of camp x-all mnts that i started to ice climb with. They are great tools with a very similar geometry to BD/petzl tools. The x-dreams/nomics/fusions are better for dry tooling and very steel/overhanging ice. I would go with the x-all mnts, they do have a little problem with sticking in the ice and being difficult to pull them out. You can fix this by filling off the first pick (look at MP forums of google for more on this issue). But for the price of the tools, you can't go wrong.

Happy ice hunting!

FosterK · · Edmonton, AB · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 43

The Mont Blanc Pro (MBP) work perfectly fine for ice climbing and the integrated gaiter increases warmth, waterproofness, and eliminates the need for separate gaiters. It's also marginally lighter than the older Mont Blanc.

Petzl crampons generally fit the MBP very well, so you should consider those options: Dart/Dartwin models fit the MBP very well, are light, climb ice (and mixed) great and  are durable. I'd concur with the approach to use a second set of crampons for mountaineering/glacier travel.

jon jugenheimer · · Madison, WI · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 2,248

If you will be climbing a lot at Sandstone, I highly recommend the Snaggletooth crampons.  They are actually really good on water ice, but really excel on mixed up to the ~M6 range (for my skills) and super awesome on flat edges, which sandstone is LOADED with.  If you want to get into mixed at casket in Duluth, then the snaggletooths are not the best choice, I would go with a vertical mono front point for the rock style there. So, a quiver of one crampon for ice in Minnesota? The cyborg if BD.  You can go mono or dual vertical front points->options.



Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 661

Regarding Mt. Stuart - you are not going to want any of the things you've mentioned for it.  You'll want aluminum crampons and an ultralight axe (e.g. CAMP Corsa nano).  Many people climb that route later in the season specifically to avoid needing crampons and an axe.  

Jack C. · · Calgary, AB · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 325

With some finagling I can get a really close fit with the old orange cyborgs on my MBP's.  I think the pro's are worth the bit of extra dough over the standard Scarpa MB's, too.

JohnnyG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 10
Nick Sweeney wrote:

Regarding Mt. Stuart - you are not going to want any of the things you've mentioned for it.  You'll want aluminum crampons and an ultralight axe (e.g. CAMP Corsa nano).  Many people climb that route later in the season specifically to avoid needing crampons and an axe.  

So true. My advice: Buy a setup that is sweet for vertical ice. I like the cyborgs. In a pinch you could bring heavy stuff up mt Stuart (many, many people have). 

Bryan · · Minneapolis, MN · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 346

Wow that was a lot of posts, everybody's excited for ice huh?

Thank you very much for all your input everybody. Looks like I've been swayed to go for the MBPs over the standard GTX. Thank you for that. 

Jon - I'm pretty sure I met you at Devil's Lake about two months ago. I was the guy leading Orgasm and getting sketched out a bit, haha. Nice to hear from you. Thanks for the input, it definitely helps to have someone who knows the areas, and yes, I'll be at Sandstone quite a bit. I'm reconsidering the Snaggletooth now as per your recommendation. Still up in the air as to crampon choice. Between Snaggletooth, Cyborg Pro, and Bladerunners. I might have to look at some of the Petzl ones if FosterK says they fit the MBPs well.

NIck - thank you for the Stuart specific recommendation. I've ditched the BD raven pro idea, now thinking of either the corsa-nano or petzl glacier/glacier literide. And yeah I think I'll end up with two sets of crampons, one for ice and one lightweight for glacier and snow. Thanks for the heads-up.

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 5
BryanE wrote:

Wow that was a lot of posts, everybody's excited for ice huh?

Thank you very much for all your input everybody. Looks like I've been swayed to go for the MBPs over the standard GTX. Thank you for that. 

Jon - I'm pretty sure I met you at Devil's Lake about two months ago. I was the guy leading Orgasm and getting sketched out a bit, haha. Nice to hear from you. Thanks for the input, it definitely helps to have someone who knows the areas, and yes, I'll be at Sandstone quite a bit. I'm reconsidering the Snaggletooth now as per your recommendation. Still up in the air as to crampon choice. Between Snaggletooth, Cyborg Pro, and Bladerunners. I might have to look at some of the Petzl ones if FosterK says they fit the MBPs well.

NIck - thank you for the Stuart specific recommendation. I've ditched the BD raven pro idea, now thinking of either the corsa-nano or petzl glacier/glacier literide. And yeah I think I'll end up with two sets of crampons, one for ice and one lightweight for glacier and snow. Thanks for the heads-up.

I've climbed vertical ice in the snaggletooth and it works, but I always wish I had either my cyborgs or bladerunners. If you get the blade runner then you have a really quick easy change over to single horizontal front point that woks for sandstone mixed climbing. Saves you from having crampons that don't do vertical ice well just to have something that works on sandstone mixed. I love my bladerunners and though they may be heavier, I really don't notice the extra weight at all. 

Greg Shea · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 10

Petzl lynx?

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 5

Also, on the tools. Yeah go with the x-all mountain. I used them for 2-3 years until I got a good deal on the x-dreams last year. Will climb up through WI4 really well and can handle WI5. They are better on lower angle WI2/3 than the x-dreams just because of the shape of the shaft/handle. You'll be plenty happy with them for at least a few years, if not forever. If you want to do more mixed and steep ice in a few years you can get the x-dreams or whatever new technological marvel the gear gods come up with next. 

Bryan · · Minneapolis, MN · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 346

Thanks again. Leaning towards bladerunners I think that's the way to go. Thanks for the verification on x-all mountains. I almost changed my mind to x-dreams but I am going to stick with the x-all.

One more question. How about the Arc'teryx Acrux AR boot? I could get a good deal on those as well. From what I understand they are a lot warmer but a little softer so might not climb ice as well? More of a mountaineering boot? I'm sure it would be just fine for the kind of ice I would be climbing. It sounds like they might be a good fit for me as well.

Greg Shea · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 10

I think the northeast alpine start has an article on bladerunners and the acrux AR pairing well

Kevin Mcbride · · Canmore AB · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 160
BryanE wrote:

Thanks again. Leaning towards bladerunners I think that's the way to go. Thanks for the verification on x-all mountains. I almost changed my mind to x-dreams but I am going to stick with the x-all.

One more question. How about the Arc'teryx Acrux AR boot? I could get a good deal on those as well. From what I understand they are a lot warmer but a little softer so might not climb ice as well? More of a mountaineering boot? I'm sure it would be just fine for the kind of ice I would be climbing. It sounds like they might be a good fit for me as well.

Acruxs  are great. They are very narrow so try before you buy if you can. Other than that they climb nicely and are very comfortable.

Luke Lydiard · · Mammoth Lakes, CA · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 758

I have a very lightly used pair of La Sportiva Trango EVO GTX "Silver Bullets" in size 44.0 for $225. I'll cover shipping and PayPal fees.


Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 236
BryanE wrote:

 Leaning towards bladerunners I think that's the way to go. Thanks for the verification on x-all mountains. I almost changed my mind to x-dreams but I am going to stick with the x-all.

Just keep in mind that a thread like this is mostly just a list of what a few guys happen to own/use.  Bladerunners and X-Alls are both great pieces of equipment, but there are many other equally suitable alternatives, especially for a newer climber.  For crampons, The Petzl Dart/Dartwin/Lynx, Grivel G20/G22 would be just as good as the models you listed, for example.

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

Brian. 

I sent you PM offering to swing tools or handle crampons in the Twin Cities area before you make a decision. I have several brands and models of tools and crampons and just in general like to sit around and talk ice climbing equipment. 


Cheers.


David M · · Nashville, TN · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0

OP, what's your shoe size?

I wear 48's and I can report that BD crampons seem to have fit issues with my boots, which are all Scarpa. The Snaggletooths work okay with my Phantom 6000's (medium toe bail), but they're a garbage fit with Phantom Guides or Mont Blancs (bottom half is the same boot). With the medium bail, the secondary points are too far back. With the much-better-fitting narrow bail, the secondary points are WAY too far back. I suspect the other BD crampons are going to be the same, but maybe I'm wrong? There are only the three toe bail sizes (the biggest one is utterly useless) and it doesn't look like the holes are set any further back on the other models.

I bought Bladerunners (paid a little over $200, so not even that much more than BD's) and the fit was totally fine right out of the box. Ironically, I did switch them to the BD narrow bails because they fit the boot better- sec points are still in the right place, though.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480

Try as many kinds of gear out you can before you buy. Take AlpineJason up on his offer. 

The XDream and the All Mountain have a totally different swing. Try both before you buy. Buy the one that feels the best.

 Get fitted for boots. Do NOT buy boots off the internet without trying them on. The single most important piece of gear to get right in ice climbing is boot fit. Go to a reputable shop, pay what you have to to have a boot fitter size your boots for you.

 If you're thinking Bladerunners or another crampon take a TR lap with a Bladerunner on one foot and the other crampons you're thinking about on the other. Buy what feels most secure.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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