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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Your Crampon fit?

"Not the way life is suppose to be!"                                   

photos courtesy of  Bertrand Cote 

I would bet that over half of the people reading this blog are using a crampon/boot combination that doesn't "fit".

Before you call, "bullshit", read on, then go check your own rig again.

What do I mean by "fit"?   I mean ZERO  movement between boot and crampon when latched and even more importantly when climbing.

If you can flex your crampons by holding your boot /crampon combo between your legs and pull up on the front points and have the crampon flex...they don't fit.  If you can move the toe of your boot inside the front bail either before it is buckled in, after it is buckled in or the toe migrates inside the crampon off to the side once you are climbing, the crampon doesn't fit.

If you can move the connecting bar sideways while holding your boot and crampon combo, your crampon doesn't fit.  If your crampon's heel section can be moved by pushing or pulling on the center bar, the crampon doesn't fit.  It your replaceable front points have any flex in them left to need to tighten the bolt that holds them to the crampon body.  Not a fit issue..but you get the idea.

I own 5 pairs of boots from La Sportiva and Scarpa currently.  And 6 pairs of technical crampons.  The crampons are from Petzl, Black Diamond and Grivel.   I mix and match heel pieces and toe bales on each brand to get the best fit possible.  And still there are some crampon and boot combinations that I simply find unsuitable for hard technical climbing.

Petzl and Scarpa both claim in emails to me that the newest Phantom series of  boots and  the Dartwin and Dart combination is a "good combination with no issues".   I've seen people who should know better claim a "perfect fit" between the same combo.  I wear a size 45 boot and mine simply don't "fit".

I get enough feed back that I have to wonder who is really dreaming here?  But I'm still not going to use that combo in my own climbing, sorry.  And I really like both the boots and the crampons.

Black Diamond knows there are issues with many of the newer super low profile boot soles and smaller boots in particular.  None of the crampon manufactures have any control  over what the boot manufactures come up with.  But they must modify their crampons to fit.  Easier said than done from my own experience.  BD is currently working on a new bail design to better the fit  on all the new boots.

Having a crampon that doesn't fit perfectly just makes the climbing harder.   It makes the climbing less safe.  Dropping a crampon can literally be a life or death issue.  It is never a good thing.  Obviously few out there dropping crampons but the fit generally SUCKS!

Some where between now (2011) and then (1980) have we allowed the manufactures to produce and we keep buying, some really bad combos for crampon and boot interface?

Why do I care?  Having a "proper" crampon fit makes climbing so much easier.   The crampons simply work better on hard technical terrain, especially so on ice.

Do me a favor and let me know if your crampons actually "fit" or don't. The reason I ask?  I was playing with my Spantik's last night and the crampons I prefer to use on them.  You can guess what I found...but my thought was, "sacrebleu, these don't fit!".   And now you know how I came up with 50%.

broken front bail mid pitch
Bertrand Cote photo 

Here are links to other threads and public polls on the topic, but please feel free to comment, either way, here on the blog.  Judge for yourself the level of fit we are getting in crampons.


Marc said...

The crampons I am planning to use with my Phantom 6000 boots (size 43) appear to fit quite well (I'm completely new to using crampons but there doesn't seem to be any movement between the boot and crampon). I guess I won't know for sure until I actually try them.

The crampons I have are Grivel G12 Newmatic + Grivel Assymetric bars. I do not think they're technical crampons, but they should be plenty what I am going to do during the next couple of years.

The guy in the shop originally tried to sell me crampons from Petzl (I cannot remember exactly which model, Sarken II or Dartwin), but they didn't fit the Phantom boots very well.

Gaz said...

Having just purchased some Scarpa Jorasses. I am finding it difficult to get any crampons to fit them well at all. Any suggestions would be welcomed.

a little lost said...

"can flex your crampons by holding your boot /crampon combo between your legs and pull up on the front points and have the crampon flex"

I have Raichle All Degree Pro boots and Mk I Petzl Dart Sidelock.

About 2mm flex between crampon and tip of the toe when pulling up the crampon as described.

Is that enought to worry about? I'd thought about shaping more of a rocker profile to the front section of the crampon, have never actually felt any movement on ice, so thought it unecessary.

Dane said...

If you can more your crampon with your hands while on the boot, you can bet it is moving on you while climbing.

Problem? It is for me. Not likely that the crampon or binding/boot fit is going to fail but it isn't helping your (my) climbing either.

Kevin said...

I've got a pair of La Sportiva Nepal Evo's and Sabertooth's. The fit seems to be descent, but there is some movement, more so in the heel. I know you have these boots and crampons, so what's your take on the match up? What alterations would you make to improve this fit?
Thanks Dane, I greatly enjoy your blog. Keep it up.

Kevin said...

I should have also mentioned that they are a size 48 with no long bar. I should probably get the long bar, as I am on the second to last hole.

Dane said...

Kevin, thanks for the feed back. Black Diamond will have a new bail out at some point. may be late this season if not hopefully by next fall. I hear they are working on Gen 3 right now. Best answer I have for BD crampons (which I use a lot) is use a Petzl front bail.

But check the Petzl version often as they are not as durable as the bigger gauge wire used on the BD bails. No easy answer that I have seen.

Dane said...

Four of us running Sabertooths or Cyborgs on the second to last pin hole @ 6.5 on the normal bars. I don't see that as a problem as long as you have something of the bar sticking through the slot at full width.

I actually cut my bars for some of my lighter weight boots to that length and have not had a problem.

Luke said...

Hi Dane, love everything as usual. Just wondering what you do to fit the silver trangos with either the saberooth/serac or G12. I wasn't super impressed with the BD I tried on them in the store and we don't have any Grivel around here for me to play with. Or any BD asymmetric bars for that matter. Any thoughts?

Dane said...

Hey Luke, thanks for the comments. Silver Bullets? Trango Extreme Evo in plain language for those that don't know. I use the Grivel G12, the Black Diamond Sabertooth and the Serac on them by simply changing the front bail out from Grivel or BD and adding the Petzl front bail. Huge difference on the fit and as close to anything I own to being perfect.

Down side is the stainless Petzl bails work harden and can fail unexpectantly. Like the pictures of the Darts in this blog entry. They are cheap so ideally you would change them every season or two with a lot of use to avoid failure.

a little lost said...

Just seen the picture of the broken Dart

Jim said...

Hi Dane,
I use Scarpa Freney's. I used to climb with CM Grade 8's but after they we nicked by Argentine costoms I switched to Grivel G14 Mono. It has come to my attention that when fitted (with or without assymetric bar) the monopoint is a little 'pigeon toed'. By that I mean that when you swing from the knee the point is not lining up normal to the ice but at a slight angle. How ever much I muck about with them i can't change it. This seems a unique proble to this paticular style. Having sat in a shop and tried EVERY pair of crampons they had. Teaches me to buy over the internet...

Justin said...

Dane, thanks for an informative post. I have CAMP vector automatics and Nepal Evos. I had 10 days and about 50 pitches on them prior to last weekend.

At Ouray last weekend, one of the crampons popped off, going to the bottom of the canyon. Popped off again later in the weekend (though thankfully this time I was able to secure it). It seems that the toe bail came unhooked from the frame. I don't think it's user error as I have them quite tight on the boot.

Inspecting them closer, I feel like the connection is solid -- the toe bail seems to fit fine, the crampon and boot are flush, most of the tests you list in your post are passed. However, if I pull as hard as I can sideways on the forward portion of the crampon I can get some play.

I wouldn't think this is enough to make the crampon completely pop, but something caused it. Are you familiar with issues between the Nepals and the CAMPs? Any suggestions for a better match with the Nepals?

Dane said...

Hi Justin, sorry I haven't used the Camp crampons. The Nepals generally fit everything I have tried very well FWIW. Good luck and let me knwo what you find.

Anonymous said...

I have a question regarding bail position with BD crampons. Where do you tend to run the front bail?

I have both the sabertooth and cyborgs and have played around a little with the positions. The Sabertooth in the forward position is easily the way to go for me, but in the Cyborgs (which I've come to prefer) I can't decide. I've been using them in the middle hole, but wonder if the most forward hole may be better. I'm running in with dual points on a pair of 44 Baruntses and climbing it all from fat ice to scottish style scrappy mixed to steep snow. In fitting them, I've noticed that using the forward most hole places the toe of the boot past the secondary points.

Do you think there would be a noticeable difference with the bail placement?


Dane said...

I am using the front hole (closest to the front points) on my Sabers and Serac with dbl boots (Spantiks and Baruntse). I can't remember where my Cyborgs are and have already shipped them to Europe so can't tell you on those right now.

I like long front points on alpine ice especially on stuff where you'll have lots of snow on top of hard Alaska can offer. And short front points on mixed to ease the leverage.

Something in between for water fall ice.

BUT and it is a BIG BUT I am using Petzl bails so I get more front point for the hole I use than what you would get with a BD bail.

My Spantiks are well back of the secondary points on the Cyborgs.

If what you are using feels good stick with it. You'll know if they are too short or too least I surely think I notice it. Too short on ice makes for a really bad day and slippery feet!

Too long and you will get tired calves quicker than you would think. Or maybe I'm just totally full of sheet. But that is my story and I am sticking to it!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the informative response, Dane. I can't wait to see the posts from your Euro trip! I'll be curious to hear about the gear list and reasoning. Keep up the great work.


Dane said...

Hi Dane
To add to your collection of bad matches. I bought some Trango extreme evos as I wanted something light but without flex I discovered they dont fit my general mtn crampons (which are vasak lever lock with the soft
front binding) at all really These crampons do fit my nepal evo extreme(both size 41) just fine. Kind of annoying having to buy another set of general crampons (esp as having thought that binding would be fairly flexible) When I was searching re crampon fit etc I saw your blog hence
the email Another aside I think the trangos are a little bigger for the same advertised size

Zeljko said...

Will the G-14 new-matics fit on the La Sportiva Nepal Evo boot?

Will the G-14 new-matics fit on the La Sportiva Nepal Evo boot? One reviewer (Mountain Gear)says that they do not fit many boots (Sportiva Trango S Evo, Scarpa Triolet light mtn. boots, plastic Koflachs or Sportiva Makalus). Another opinion I heard is: "The new matic would work, but since the Nepal boots have front and rear welts, the cramp-o-matic is a much more secure connection, and is going to be faster to put on and take off... Better system overall for that sort of thing". Your opinion on this?

Dane said...

I use the cramp-o-matic system (G12s/ G20s and G22s) and it works fine on most boots with a heel and toe ledge made for crampons. Everything I have owned pretty much.

No clue what the strapped version of the New-Matic will fit as I have never owned a pair.

More here on what is what..I had to look.

Anonymous said...

@ Marc; owning Phantom 6000's and never used crampons before -> weird and just something to be jealous about as a 20y young alpinist who's desperately trying to get good gear for a cheap price.

Just checked my Zamberlan expert pro GTX + Grivel G14 COM combo and it looks like they fit really well...
I should check the fit to the charlet moser super 12 later though, I guess I'm gonna be disappointed. I don't have them here unfortunately.

David said...

I am a little late to this party, but just checked the fit on both my sets of crampons last night and the verdict is that on my Asolo Broad Peak GV (size 46), the BD cyborg pros (pre stainless version)fit extremely well--no movement whatsoever and not for a lack of trying. However, with my Petzl Sarkens (leverlock fil), I had a much more difficult time getting a good fit. Eventually was able to adjust them enough that I eliminated most of the movement; however, the petzl toe bail is not quite the right shape for my boots, which produced some (very little, less than 1mm) flexing when applying a lot of pressure to the frontpoints. Also, the heal piece was not ideal looking in that there was some space (less than 1mm)between the posts and the heal of the boot; however, I could not get it to move when pushing and pulling on the center bars. I could get a very little movement when I pushed and pulled on the heal piece itself. Since I use the Sarkens for glacier walking and not for steep ice, I am not as concerned about having a precise fit as I would be if I was using them for a different application. Anyway, just a couple more combinations to add to the general knowledge bank.

Lars said...

Just found that blog and esp. Dane's experience is really helpful. I am an old greenhorn on ice just started off let year. Got Nepal Evos + G12 New Matic which fit excellent.

Heading of in Nov for Cotopaxi and Chimborazo planning next year Acon via polish glacier. Boot selection is a nightmare. Phantom 6000 44 slightly fits better than Spantik 44 where there is some heel lift, but Spantik is definitely warmer. Liner is much thicker and Dane is right slipping into the 6000 liner is not as smooth as into the Spantik.

In turn the Grivels seem to fit better on the Phantoms front ledge than on the Spantik as it is larger.

So my question is which crampons fit best on the Spantik ? as I am currently favouring this boot due to its "perceived" warmth. All the different local dealers I checked with also recommend this boot.

Just by the way. Tried as well the LOWA 6000 RD in a shop next to Spastic
Extremely bulky boot with a rather flat sole which I would snot prefer on a "rocky" approach. Although donning that shoe on a tent morning takes it time,

Dane said...

Most of the crampons should fit the Spantik. They ave in my experience with a 45/46 anyway. The fit is much better and no heel lift btw once you heat mold the liner.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed this myself and could hardly believe how poorly some crampons fit now. In particular, I was hugely disappointed with the Grivel G12 which have sold well in Britain despite having a poorly fitting front bail to most boots I've seen. Poor in either set of holes. Vice and hammer improves things with a little care, but there are still the curly loops which seem purposely designed to cause a fatality one day. Anybody know what they are supposed to be for, apart from catching on things? 1980s Grivel 2F crampon bail had better profile for me - seemed to fit nicely out of the box with no movement. What was wrong with that shape? Things are even worse at the heel end of the G12 - crampons can slide from side to side fairly easily meaning the heel does not stay centred on the boot. Adjustment does not work because tightening up the heel clip pulls the rear posts away from the sole leaving no contact. The design is amateurish. Kahtoola KTS are an exception to the trend for poor fitting. If they can get them to stick on trainers OK, surely Grivel can give us something that stays still on big boots?

Unknown said...

Hi Dane,
I stumbled across this while searching the internet for info on crampon attachments.
I have a pair of La Sportiva Nepals and am using Simond vampire speed crampons. While attached to the boot they are solid, i cannot move them by hand, however while crossing slopes sideways i notice them slightly slipping on the front bail.
Do you think its worth it just tightening them up abit more. The back bail is a good fit and hardish to close but could be tightened slightly more if needed.
Ive always though the front toe welt isnt big enough to support the bail properly, but maybe this is just because i have worn the rubber down due to granite climbing in them on mixed alpine routes.
Would fitting them with the c2 petzl lynx bail (where could i get it) eliminate this problem.

Anonymous said...

I just switched from Nepal Evos to Phantom Guides and know that the fit of the BD sabretooth to the Phantom's is atrocious. Any suggestions on improving the match or which crampons would work better with the Phantoms?

Thanks so much!

Josh Allred's Blog said...

Hey Dane,

I wear a size 45 in Batura 2.0s. Same as you I believe. I have a pair of cyborgs and sabertooths. How do you get optimal fit with them? I am struggling. Any suggestions would help. Thanks for your time.


Dane said...

Sorry Josh, I stopped using BD crampons a couple of years ago. Only suggestion I have is get the newest low profile front bails and see if that helps. Lots of LS atheletes in that combo so it has to be easy enough to fix.

Dennis said...

I've been climbing in Nepal Extreme Evos for years, and have gotten great fit with BD crampons - old (ca. 2000) Sabertooths, newer (ca. 2012) Sabertooths, and my wife's ca. 2010 Cyborgs. Adjust the length, adjust the rear bail tension, they're golden. This year I got warmer boots, the Phantom 6000s. Great fit for my narrow feet, better than I thought I could get from double boots. However... my BD crampons no longer fit well. The standard front bail gives a sloppy fit (i.e. can shift the front section side to side with my hands). The low-profile front bail fits great in the first position (nearest the front points), but then leaves too little front point exposed. I've been unable to fit the low-profile bails in the second position; the crampon frame is wider there, and I can't get them to go on. The Phantoms in general have rather low-profile toes, but mine are 47s, which takes away some of the "low profile". Four years on, not much improvement...

So far the only thing that even remotely works is a friend's old Cyborgs, which he retrofitted with Grivel front bails. These seem rock solid when adjusted to the appropriate tension. For these boots I may have to migrate to Grivel.

Randal said...

Not sure if you'll see this but...

The newer generation of crampons seems to be moving toward a set of front points that point inward to varying degrees regardless of how well they fit otherwise. I am not a fan. Maybe I need to adapt to whatever this new line of thinking is, but I still haven't been able to get to the point where it feels "normal" or right to climb on them. Any thoughts? More specifically, any thoughts on "fixing" it? Petzl and Black Diamond both tell me it's "better that way". I remain decidedly unconvinced.

The standard trick of offsetting the toe bail doesn't really work. Any thoughts on flipping the center bar so you are effectively wearing them on the wrong feet? Seems wrong ... But I can't think of any real reason why other than that it looks funny. I can't imagine it changes the forces on the crampon all THAT much...

For reference this is on Rebel Pro boots and Petzl Lynx pons. But I've had the same issue with other crampon/boot combos with full-auto bindings.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Dylan Carey said...

Thanks for all your great posts. Have you heard of any reports of the BD sabretooth pro front toe bail coming off while climbing? I just bought a new pair, not sure what "generation" these would be. Thanks!


Dane said...

Not a problem I have heard of....