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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Monday, January 17, 2011

Added support for La Sportiva's soft ankle ice boots?

(Another repost from early last year that I keep getting questions on.)

There is a lot to recommend the really light weight boots with super soft ankles like the La Sportiva Batura and Trango Extremes on steep technical ice but comfort and calf support aren't two that come to mind.

One way I have found to help that style of boot on endurance ice is use some old technology that a few back country skiers are now remembering as well.

Long Thongs and Alberg straps in the past were used to help stiffen the ankle on ski boots, long before I started skiing. A extra wrap or two around the ankle, then snugged up tight, is just what I need for long, full days on continuous ice. Might not be enough for Alaska but should get you up things like Polar Circus, Slipstream or the N. Face of Athabasca with a bit more comfort in those soft ankled, stiff soled, light weight boots we all love. Not required for the typical ice cragging day though. Nice because with the option of stiffening the ankle the biggest advantage to me of these boots is how easily they walk with those same, soft ankles. Hard climbs with long approaches (or long climbs with only a moderate amount of hard climbing) is where i think these boots excel.

Black Diamonds heel levers and their safety straps ($30 a pair for the entire kit straight from BD catalog sales) offer the perfect option and length of strap on my size 12 boots and skinny ankles. You can use BD and Grivel levers on Petzl if you like. Cut the wire straps off the front bail and the Grivel/BD straps will work in a similar manner with at least one full wrap around the ankle for additional support. Heel levers are easy to switch off and on. Another advantage is you are less likely to ever loose a 'pon if the 'pon clips ever pop off your boot. Something else I really appreciate is you can then cut those damn toe retainer pieces off the front bail and forget about them!

After all, who doesn't appreciate a clean pair of toes :-)

Scarpa Phantom Ultra boots and Black Diamond Sabertooth crampons

BD Serac crampon on water ice


Anonymous said...

Hi! How does it work without the toe bail retainer straps - you would think they are there for a reason, but as said, for example Darts come without, so is there really a possibility for the toe bail to jump out without the retainer. This mod would temp me a lot, as I also would need some extra ankle support every now and then.

Dane said...

I've been told and tend to believe that the BD toe strap is purely cosmetic and added to better compete with Grivel crampons in Europe. Grivel does something similar but also uses a totally different (and not as reliable imo as Petzl or BD) front bail design.

I've been using clip on crampons a long time and never used the toe strap or lost a crampon with clip on bindings. Either the crampons came with out the toe strap or I've replaced the bails on my Grivel crampons with Petzl bails or lately on BD crampons I've simply cut them off. I am not the only one doing it. I was told, again by BD, that it wouldn't be an issue with binding reliability.

I am however very careful as to how I first clip my crampons on, making sure my bails are completely on my toe lip and my lever is square on the heel lip when I flip the latch closed.

I would encourage everyone to do the same with or without the over toe wire on the bail.

mm said...

hmmm ... I guess that without the toe-strap you could lose the whole front part of the crampon if the bars that provide the link to the rear part of the crampon ever failed ....

Dane said...

Not adjusting your crampons correctly and you are likely to loose a crampon....toes or heels. Not likely you'd loose a crampon other wise.

I have NEVER climbed with a toe strap and I have never used the Grivel front bail (which is why they were invented)....problem solved :) And I have done a bunch of climbing in Grivel crampons.

Pays to open your mind when it is your life on the line or strap :).

Kids boots said...

I have always been scared in hiking during winter. But I think this ankle ice boots could be a really great advantage if you are worry about your safety.

Simon said...

I have just got Petzl Lynx crampons and I am busy trying to fit them to La Sportiva Spantik size 45.5. I found I had to trim a tiny bit of the sole to get the heel lever to fit over the sole correctly (the boots / soles are very wide). Now things seem ok and I plan to use the toe bail option on the front. I also have a pair of BD Sabertooth crampons. In our opinion is there any value in using the BD toe bail and / or heel lever (indeed is this possible). Regards, Simon (New Zealand)

Dane said...

Hi Simond. I like and use the BD heel levers on my Petzl crampons. Easy retro fit. I use them simply to get a better fit. The BD front bail wires are trash imo. There I use Petzl wires on every crampon I own to get a better fit on my boots which are 45 and 45.5.