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Crampons & Ice Axe

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  • Crampons & Ice Axe

    Looking for recommendations from you guys what's the best and not gonna totally break the bank...

    Over- ski-boot crampon style. Ice axe.

    Skiing to live, Living to ski.

  • #2
    Black diamond neve pro crampons have been my go to for years. Light, strong and effective. I don't use or own an axe but swear by my black diamond whippet. Great tool for many while skiing and climbing uses.


    • #3
      To some extent it all depends on what you plan on doing with them.

      Crampons pretty much any will do if it fits your boot well and what you want to do with them will decide aluminum or steel. For just steep hard snow Aluminum is fine. I have used BD Sabertooth's and CAMP 380 on Dynafit boots TLT boots. I know you asked about "over-ski-boot" but I recommend going fully automatic. IMO an automatic crampon has much less futzing to get them on and feel more secure but as I said fit in important and you need to make sure the lever has clearance and the toe bails fit.

      Axes have gotten lighter and lighter lately. I would recommend one with a steal head. I had an aluminium one and it just felt like it bounced off hard snow/ice, which is when you want an axe to stick. I also assume you would not need a long one, if you have ski poles and just save the axe for when poles feel inappropriate. These guys have a pretty good axe overview and I have always thought their reviews were reasonable.

      I've never used a Whippet as Rog suggests, I'm stubborn and prolly never will but perhaps that will work well for you, again all depends...
      Last edited by apingaut; 03-11-2017, 08:03 PM.


      • #4
        Cheap and Reliable:

        Black Diamond Contact (Strap) Crampons

        Black Diamond Raven ice Axe (Don't need a curved axe unless youre getting technical.)


        • #5
          Food for though:

          The BD Neve was recommended above for being aluminum and light. Plenty true, which is why I bought them a few years ago (+ I got a great deal on them)

          I sold them after two outings after seeing what the 'rockpile' would do to them. Aluminum is soft, rocks are not.

          I ended up buying one of their stainless versions. Heavier, but will last waaay longer for the abuse they will get from me.

          I know the Neve works great for many, it just wasn't for me.


          • #6
            Ya I don't walk on rock with mine. Once I top out I stay on snow or take them off if it's rocky. Had em for years and used them a ton. Barely scratched.


            • #7
              I use the Camp aluminum crampons designed for rando racing in ski boots - best investment I've ever made. Recommended by Jonathan Shefftz. I used to make a decision at the trailhead, whether to leave the crampon bag in my car or carry the extra weight, based on conditions and route plan. Too many times I ran into conditions icier than planned, or had reasons to climb up or down an icy pitch that I hadn't planned (like retrieving a friend's dropped piece of gear that went on a long-sliding-fall). Camp's aluminum crampons are light enough, that they stay in the pack all season long.
              I have rarely had any trouble with the strap system loosening up, but you must adjust the length correctly to your boot sole. I had years of practice, and always make a habit of visually checking each boot isn't loosening up, every few steps, when exposed to a long-sliding-fall. I had lots of trouble with my older steel crampons loosening up. The Camp model is very reliable, but that's no reason to stop that habit of visually checking your crampons, as you kick steps up or down anything steep.

              Just buying the gear is not the end of the story. Crampons can be more of a liability than an asset, if these are your first pair. You can rip your calf muscle right off the bone, right through your pants, in one mis-placed step. I once met a guy at the summit, sharing shelter from the wind behind the Stage Office building, who had just rented crampons and an ice axe at IME, and "decided to hike up Mt Washington" for the first time. I pointed out that his GoreTex wind pants were ripped to shreds, inside his left and right calves. "Wow, I didn't notice that!" he replied. Catching a point on your opposite pant leg can trip you up, rip your pants, or draw blood if you aren't careful. I'm pigeon-toed anyway, so its easy for me to walk-like-a-duck. The point is, keep a wide stance, feet apart. I try to never make big steps, and kick-in each new step no higher than my other boot-top. If your uphill boot slips in snow that's softer than you expected, you don't want those inner points coming down on your down-hill leg, above your boot-top. A day skiing The Seven with a guide, Paul Cormier, taught me I had been doing some things wrong for years, without ever knowing it. "What are you doing ?!?", he asked, as I front-pointed straight up. "That's how we do it in Tuckerman Ravine", I replied. lauging. "Aren't your legs killing you? Watch me...", he said, and led the rest of the pitch. Oh, that's what those side points are for... But don't listen to me, hire a guide for a day, it's a lot cheaper than joining a search & rescue group for all the "free" training.

              Invest in a good $20 crampon bag. Outdoor research (OR) no longer makes the one I have, which had attachment points on it, that permit using a 3'-4' loop of 1" nylon webbing as shoulder straps. I like to drop my full pack at the top, ski down Airplane with just my crampons and first-aid kit (or a sandwich & can of beer, if you like to live dangerously), though I have to boot back up with my skis over my shoulder. Similarly, in Tucks or GOS, I can hike up a run with crampons on my feet, skis over my shoulder, and crampon bag on my back for stowing the crampons on the run down. If the conditions are really icy, then you are going to want an ice axe, and carry your full pack with side straps for ski carrying.

              Aluminum crampons are meant for climbing steep snow, not high-angle ice climbing, nor extended walking on rock, of course. This strap system enables fast transitions. Another model works with soft snowboard boots, though I don't know why anyone would want to backcountry snowboard anything technical without plastic mountaineering boots.

              I use the XLC-470:

              Good Luck!
              "The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready." - Henry David Thoreau


              • #8
                Originally posted by YeloBlammo View Post
                ...Heavier, but will last waaay longer for the abuse they will get from me.
                RE: Stainless versus Aluminum.
                I should point out that I'm not a heavy guy, I weigh under 170 pounds, with a full pack, in my ski boots. If you are a big, athletic guy, over 200, that might make a big difference in the weight vs. strength choice.
                "The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready." - Henry David Thoreau


                • #9
                  If you are in ski country, and on a budget, check the IME consignment shop, on MainSt in North Conway, across from the Eastern Slope Inn; occasionally someone sells a used pair that they haven't already destroyed; I've seen crampon bags there, too. IME is worth a visit, anytime. Also, Ragged Mtn Equip on NH16 in Intervale.
                  "The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready." - Henry David Thoreau