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#41324 - 01/08/15 10:02 AM Hiking Crampons vs. Mountaineering Crampons
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Do the Kahtoola KTS (1"/ 2.5 cm) or K10 (.75"/1.9 cm) crampons have aggressive enough points for routes like the Baldy Bowl or the route that bypasses the switchbacks on Mt. Whitney? Is something like the Black Diamond Contact Strap Crampons (1.18"/3 cm) better suited?

•https://kahtoola.com/product/k10-hiking-crampon/
•https://kahtoola.com/product/kts-steel-hiking-crampon/
•http://www.rei.com/product/798354/black-diamond-contact-strap-crampons-with-abs-plates

I used the Contact Strap Crampons to bypass the switchbacks last year, but am curious about the offerings from Kahtoola. Some points I am thinking about:

• It seems the learning curve would be easier with the Kathoolas - less worry about hurting yourself and it seems you'd be able to walk with a 'normal' gait/stance, but I am unsure if they'd provide enough traction.
• The Black Diamonds are the most aggressive of the 3 products, but are the most dangerous in terms potentially injury yourself (kicking an ankle, catching clothing)
• I don't plan on doing anything technical. The Baldy Bowl or bypassing the switchbacks on Whitney are as steep as it will get for me.
• I think the Kahtoolas would cover a wider range of terrain.
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#41331 - 01/09/15 03:52 AM Re: Hiking Crampons vs. Mountaineering Crampons [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 591
Loc: Manchester, NH
I've not used the Kahtoola KTS myself, but friends have, and its performance is similar to the Hillsound Trail Pro Crampon but at twice the price. If for whatever reason(s) you want to go with the Kahtoola's, make sure you select their steel version. The aluminum version will dull rapidly in mixed alpine environments. Is either one suitable for the Baldy Bowl? Well, I can't speak for others, but I would use either of them for myself.

In another post there were comments re: using gaiters to hold microspikes on. I suppose that would work in a pinch (better to use a piece of paracord or shoelace over the instep) but at the risk of stating the obvious - it defeats a purpose of gaiters. A properly attached gaiter helps prevent snow from being forced up between the boot and the lower leg. It also helps keep out water if you punch thru a snow/ice-covered brook/river - not for too long, but a few seconds is often all you need. Putting them over the crampons/microspikes will also create a slippery surface, possibly cause snow/ice to accumulate around the strap, and will accelerate wear on the strap. Personally I won't do it, but hey - some people wear their underwear on the outside and make tons of money doing it, so who am I to say?!

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#41579 - 01/24/15 08:04 PM Re: Hiking Crampons vs. Mountaineering Crampons [Re: KevinR]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Originally Posted By: KevinR
If for whatever reason(s) you want to go with the Kahtoola's, make sure you select their steel version.


They asked me what product I wanted to review and I ended up going with the K*10s, which are steel.

Thanks for your input.
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#41592 - 01/25/15 12:13 PM Re: Hiking Crampons vs. Mountaineering Crampons [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1251
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Hmmm...last time up the bowl. There was this woman in her finest Microspikes and trekking poles last seen heading south past me at 35 MPH...and she was not glissading. This is the second person that has slide by me where these trailwalking tools on high angle slopes.

Any area that is not a trail, you should have crampons and an axe but most importantly skills. My friend and I made 8 changes last weekend on a trip whose final decent started between the Charltons...micros, snowshoes and crampons. Each tool was used where it was needed, no tool was used where it was not the right tool.

On the aforementioned climb, I was really happy to have Sabretooths (BD 12 pts.) on as went down the Ski Hut Trail between 9,300' and base of the bowl. I had the choice of either. Micros are not very good angles much great the 800 - 900'/mile of gain/loss.

You do not catch clothing with crampons, you catch gaiters...or should.

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#41593 - 01/25/15 02:50 PM Re: Hiking Crampons vs. Mountaineering Crampons [Re: wbtravis]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
wbtravis,

I wouldn't try the bowl with Microspikes either. I was asking about K-10 or KTS Hiking Crampons, which are somewhere between Microspikes and mountaineering crampons.

http://www.hikinggeek.com/2015/01/09/kahtoolas-winter-traction-devices/

I now have Kahtoola Microspikes and CAMP Stalker Universal Crampons (very similar to BD Contact Straps) that I purchased with my own money. I also have Hillsound Trail Crampons and Kahtoola K10 Hiking Crampons that were sent to me from the mfg for review. Part of what I am trying to do is figure out what the reasonable/safe limits are of each product and as well as how they overlap/work with each other.

Last weekend did you go Up Big Draw then down through the divide?

When I said clothing, I meant gaiters. blush I don't go play in the snow without them.
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#41594 - 01/25/15 06:32 PM Re: Hiking Crampons vs. Mountaineering Crampons [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1251
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
One and half times longer than Microspikes and no front points...not me.

Over the years, I have found there is nothing like 12 points of steel attached to mountaineering boots for safety. This for things like going up the bowl or the north chutes of San G...nothing more technical. I know I would not have wanted those toys coupled with a pair of Vasquez Breeze's on my feet on the ice slabs at the top of Big Draw last Saturday.

A half pound of weight savings ain't a big deal when you have 3 or 4 hats, 3 pairs of gloves, 3 jackets and vest. If I want to cut a half pound I'd leave my steel thermos home.

Gaiters are meant to be torn and repaired...me and Aqua Seal are very good friends.

Yeppers, my friends and I were up Big Draw and the top of that sucker was serious. Not pucker material but close to it. All of us with 12 point steel from Grivel, Charlet Moser and Black Diamond, all of us with stiff platform mountaineer boots...which really helped at the top.

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#41597 - 01/26/15 08:25 AM Re: Hiking Crampons vs. Mountaineering Crampons [Re: wbtravis]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Originally Posted By: wbtravis
One and half times longer than Microspikes and no front points...not me.

I had my doubts, so that's why I asked.

Originally Posted By: wbtravis

A half pound of weight savings ain't a big deal...

It's more about saving money than weight at this point. I was planning on buying mountaineering crampons when I was offered the K-10s. Since I wanted to review them regardless of how they'd fit into the gear that I currently own, I was hoping that the K-10s would work well for my plans over the next few months.

I am in the process of upgrading/replacing a bunch of my gear. I guess it partially comes down to spending my money on gear that I know I will get to use. I could buy mountaineering boots and crampons next week and we may not get significant snow until 2016. However, I do know that if I replace my 9 lb tent with something lighter, it will get used this summer. If I knew I'd see conditions in the coming weeks that'd require rigid boots and crampons, they'd already be sitting on my desk.

Originally Posted By: wbtravis

Gaiters are meant to be torn and repaired...me and Aqua Seal are very good friends.

I used Tenacious Tape for the first time a couple of weeks ago to repair my gaiters. I have never used Aqua Seal
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#41661 - 01/31/15 08:28 AM Re: Hiking Crampons vs. Mountaineering Crampons [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1251
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Those things are glorified Microspikes for trailwalking. To me, safety is #1 in the winter, everything else is #1,236,679. This why I do not do Baldy Bowl on weekends in the winter...the last time friends asked me to do, I did it on a Sunday and the following happened...I guy with lightweight aluminum crampons affixed to his road racing shoes...no axe, no poles walked into our line of trail, a guy down climbed the bowl with his hound in micros with poles and two women climbed next to us, one who eventually slid by us at 35 MPH. This was more than enough to convince me, my original assessment of this being fool's paradise was correct.

I do not mind one iota carrying 30 pounds for a winter day trip.

Aqua Seal usually fixes most tears. If they are persistent, I use iron on stuff. When that fails, it is time for some heavy nylon fabric and a visit to a shoemaker, which is where I am now on a pair of 17 year old gaiters.

If you are looking for some mountaineering boot head to Zamberlan, they have some killer deals on light and heavyweight boots they are discontinuing in the states.

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#41812 - 02/16/15 08:48 AM Re: Hiking Crampons vs. Mountaineering Crampons [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1134
Loc: NorCal
Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com

I used the Contact Strap Crampons to bypass the switchbacks last year, but am curious about the offerings from Kahtoola. Some points I am thinking about:

• It seems the learning curve would be easier with the Kathoolas - less worry about hurting yourself and it seems you'd be able to walk with a 'normal' gait/stance, but I am unsure if they'd provide enough traction.
• The Black Diamonds are the most aggressive of the 3 products, but are the most dangerous in terms potentially injury yourself (kicking an ankle, catching clothing)
• I don't plan on doing anything technical. The Baldy Bowl or bypassing the switchbacks on Whitney are as steep as it will get for me.
• I think the Kahtoolas would cover a wider range of terrain.

I see HikingGeek laid out a table of specs for the KT models on his blog. Let us know when the reviews are posted for this gear. Not a great year for testing but he's sure getting out there.

As WB wrote, its more dangerous to take a fall because of the wrong gear on your feet than the danger of wearing sharp crampons. With proper boots and attention to loose clothing (light gaiters), the risk of hurting yourself with crampons is very low. For me, the reason to go with a "hiking crampon" is the large weight reduction vs a step-in climbing crampon (typically saving a pound or more). Sorry, WB, that's a lot of weight on a long approach hike for some. I bought the Stubai aluminium universal binding model many years ago, one of the first available in the "hiking crampon" category. They've done fine on steep Shasta slopes and other peaks - as long as I use a stiff sole boot. I made the mistake of using a semi-stiff sole boot with these and that combo is no fun on steep slopes let me tell you - just fine for hiking but you might as well us Micros for that. Now this class of traction gear has really evolved and there are so many choices out there. I think the adventure racing folks and ultra-lighters are driving this trend.

The other point I'd like to make is what KevinR brought up, that aluminum tends to dull on mixed rock/snow terrain where you can't be taking them on and off every few minutes. I learned this the "hard way" (pun intended) and now bring a small file for these conditions. The aluminum does sharpen up nicely, but a file is extra weight and a hassle.

To summarize my experience, I'd say this class of crampon is much better than Micros on steep slopes because of the secure bindings. But you have to wear stiff sole boots to get that advantage on steep slopes or the crampons will "roll over" on you just like Micros. For the kind of slopes we're discussing, these shorter front points are adequate unless you're on really hard ice. Lastly, go with steel - Chromoly, Stainless, etc - lots of options and very comparable to aluminum weight. Lots of binding options now too, but wear a stiff sole boot for steep slopes.

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#41826 - 02/17/15 04:15 PM Re: Hiking Crampons vs. Mountaineering Crampons [Re: SierraNevada]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1012
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
I used Microspikes happily in Nepal in November 2014.

Cho La was easy on east side, nasty on west side with mixed ice ,snow and rocks. They worked fine . See pics

These are the same ones I used on Baldy in a foot of snow the whole way up and down Dec 2012. The durability of the rubber straps was impressive in both locations, and the sharpness of the tips held up really well on the rocks of the Cho La.




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#41827 - 02/18/15 09:59 PM Re: Hiking Crampons vs. Mountaineering Crampons [Re: Harvey Lankford]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1134
Loc: NorCal
Its possible to climb Shasta wearing Tevas in August. But if you're hanging from the pick end of an ice axe on a 50 deg icy slope, you want crampon front points you can bet your life on for your next step. It's all about the conditions, which you can't know until its too late. Be prepared for the worst you can reasonably expect, with options for good luck.

Harvey, awesome pix, got more?


Edited by SierraNevada (02/18/15 10:01 PM)

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#41831 - 02/19/15 11:35 AM Re: Hiking Crampons vs. Mountaineering Crampons [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
I am hoping to use the K10s this weekend. I will carry my Grivels too.
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