/ Winter Climbing with Microspikes
Is this potentially an enjoyable activity or is it a figment of my deranged imagination?
I know of one experienced mountaineer who made a rapid exit from the bottom of a snowy Lorton Gully with them on his feet.....
But I haven't tried them on anything steep enough to call a route myself.
> Is this potentially an enjoyable activity or is it a figment of my deranged imagination?
The Kahtoola spikes are a bit like wearing rock shoes on rock, they improve your grip up but don't anchor you to the ice like real crampons. On neve there's an angle above which they'll just slide off. On water ice, worse I'd imagine.
Like IainRuk I expect a fell runner will get killed wearing a pair sooner or later.
All depends on what you consider an 'easier winter route' that you 'climb' to be, really. We talking grade I gullies? II?
I should say I've soloed quite a few easyish gullies in Walsh fell shoes with reasonable success & I'm wondering what difference adding a pair of axes & microspikes will make.
Mind you all this fancy footwear looks a bit pathetic when you think that Steep Ghyll on Scafell was reputedly first ascended in 1890, presumably with hobnail boots & alpenstock!
Colin Maclean was wearing something similar on the FWA of The Needle, except his were proper crampons but only with microspikes.
I wouldn't.. I'd use kahtoola crampons, work fine on trainers. I used them on my Paddy. PersonallY I don't think microspikes are for the mountains but each to their own.. I know Tom Phillips used them on his Ramsay.
In soft snow maybe. Hard neve? No chance.
I found microspikes to be fine on something steppy but not reliable on banked out slopes of around thirty degrees or more - the forces just twist them off your feet.
MicroSpikes are great for running on the fells in winter and with an axe you can get up some quite dicey stuff.. BUT, they aren't for winter climbing, even on a grade 1 snow gully, you might get high, but then a little too high to get yourself in trouble.
If you want to climb easier winter routes, light style, then use a flexable point crampon, like Kahtoola KTS, Camp Magics, of similar, as at least the spikes will give you some traction on steeper ground.
I was testing some Tricouni TRIGS, yet to come to the market place, but on an ascent of the NE gully on Catstye Cam I had to add MicroSpikes for more traction.. had I had KTS, then it would have been ok... but this is all down to experience and had I slipped, well I would have been moving pretty fast to the valley floor.
Running shoes and flexable crampons means no solid base and therefore no frontpointing at all.
Helvellyn is easly possible with MicroSpikes and an axe under winter conditions, as long as you have the knowledge to do it...
I'm not advising it, but there is a little info to help you with your decision.
Have fun and stay safe ;-)
Thanks for the suss. I'd have thought that semi-flex crampons like Camp Magix would not last long on bendy fell shoes - have you had any breakages?
Steve Ashworth - AKA Winter Climber has loads of experience as well, I think he uses G10's on his fell shoes?
I can see the sense in a flexible full crampon like a G10 for climbing in fell shoes. Cheers.
Is that a leading question :-)
I did take crampons as well for use on the hill. It was the Cobbler and I know the path from Succoth to above the forestry can be icy in places and crampons just a bit much if the ice is patchy with no snow cover. It's okay if you've got the room in your rucksack otherwise I'd leave them in the boot. The combination of crampons and spikes worked well that particular day. It's not often I have the space to carry both - if not then crampons get the nod.
If you have the money (£40 odd) and the space then the microspikes are a nice extra to have (but not essential) - they go on very quickly and can be stored in a jacket pocket. In the same way you'd put away any walking poles and get the axe out you have to get rid of the microspikes and don crampons at the appropriate time. They have their uses as long as you are aware of their limitations.
I think it's down to experience on the easy grade routes, a few weeks back i was on a grade II gully with rope, two axes B3 boots and crampons and a guy passed by with micro spikes, fell running trainers, one axe, no helmet, he seemed a lot more at home than me and my two mates on the rope.
I agree with everyone about microspikes: good on ice and verglass - helpfull over good fellshoes in some snow conditions, but lacking any proper steep snow and ice traction.
I've climbed up to grade III with G10s on fell shoes - this works suprisingly well. I've also run in to routes in a pair of Nepal Extremes. Assuming the point of all this is to be able to make extremely fast ascents by running in and running out, I think the ideal compromise would be finding a really light stiff boot you can run reasonably well in, plus a light 10 point crampon.
"Running shoes and flexable crampons means no solid base and therefore no frontpointing at all."
You can front point, it's just mega sketchy and really, really hard work!
Why did you run in Nepal Extremes? Why not put them in a pack and run in fell shoes?
Respect to you!
I guess it's possible to break any of the crampons on the market designed for running and from what I understand John, you do operate at the extreme end of fell running.
Good to know their limits I guess, but not ideal for it to happen whilst out in the wilds.
Can you post a link to your full blog, would like to read it
not been in touch with kahtoola, but maybe should have. the crampon points were ridiculously blunt and short by then anyway.
The leaf spring bar has a lifetime guarantee so as worn as your KTS were I would still like to have them replaced. I'm not aware of any previous failures of the leaf spring so I'm sure this is something the guys at Kahtoola will want to see.
Could I ask you to PM me so I can get some more details and so we can arrange return and replacement?
Beta Climbing Designs Ltd
(UK Kahtoola Distributors)
Good to see Iain got in touch, hopefully you have your new leaf spring bars... I should have know they have a lifetime guarentee...
Will check the blog out, thanks for the link
Just in reply to your first question that started this trhead off.. I was out on Sunday in Kahtoola KTS, ticked Gully 1 on Red Tarn Crag, conditions were fantastic, made it all the easier and safer...
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