I would bet that over half of the people reading this are using a crampon/boot combination that doesn't "fit".
Before you call, "bullocks", 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 right...you 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 imo I simply find unsuitable for 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 own those same boot and crampons and won't use the combinations myself because of the terrible boot to crampon interface. 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.
Some where between now (2011) and then (1980) we have 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%.
Is this a roundabout way of suggesting there should be standardised fits between boots and crampons?
I suppose it makes sense that things made to be as adaptable as possible often don't fit perfectly, but would manufacturers make specific fittings for specific boots? Or do they not at the moment 'cos we don't demand it?
Part of me feels that, as long as things fit well enough, I shouldn't worry - but maybe just because I don't want to start fretting that my crampons are going to fall off when I'm gibbering at a tricky spot...
(for what it's worth, I just checked my boots and crampons - there is indeed a bit of sideways play in both fore and heel plates. Hmm.)
While I have some combos I know I don't like. I have others that are rock solid. But the combos I would really like to use, aren't. That I find dissapointing at best.
Generally the companies have solved the "crampons fall off" issue. It is the sloppy crampons that most have just lived with and now consider normal that I find interesting. We spend a lot of money and time to climb. I have no clue why any one would let such a basic issue by them. I suspect most of it is they just don't now any better.
I have brought up the idea of a DIN standard for crampons/boots to a few inside the industry that could push the idea. But the Grivel/Scarpa combination failed in the market place ( I didn't buy them either) so no one looking to go there again soon.
The other concern I hear is the lack of boot developement if a DIN standard was adopted. That may or not be a real consideration. I suspect it really isn't.
> the Grivel/Scarpa combination failed in the market place ( I didn't buy them either) so no one looking to go there again soon.
Admittedly I too didn't buy any GSB boots, but I thought it was a really good idea. I understand other companies had to buy the rights to use this system, and presumably none of them wanted to until it was more firmly established in the marketplace (though it does look like Will Gadd is using a Black Diamond GSB crampon in a few pictures in my copy of his book).
Seems a shame really - a universal fitting system would be really helpful. But I suppose the complexities of different foot/boot shapes marrying a single crampon binding shape mean it's not very likely.
In reply to Dane1: I curently run La Sportiva Baturas with Petzl Darts and I think they are bomber. Have you ever looked at that combo in any detail on your blog? I would be intrigued to hear your views?
We're off to Cham in a couple of weeks, and I have just spent most of the afternoon trying to sort out a pair of crampons that will do just this; fit!
She has a pair of 2010 Scarpa Charmoz in a EU 39. Best combination;
Black Diamond Cyborg Pro (Plastic bale at the front) front half (2010)
Grivel G12 Heel piece and centre bar (2010)
Black Diamond Sabretooth (2001?) Heel clip and strap
This out of about 11 pairs of mountaineering and climbing crampons from 4 different brands.
What a faff!
This was actually prompted by watching a video that arcteryx were promoting from Sherpas Cinema. It's an artful piece, as opposed to directly about crampons, but what I really noticed was the movement between the crampon and boot.
> (In reply to Dane1) I curently run La Sportiva Baturas with Petzl Darts and I think they are bomber. Have you ever looked at that combo in any detail on your blog? I would be intrigued to hear your views?
Thanks Lamb, I have ran the Batura and Nepal Evo with the Dart and Dartwin..both bomber right out of the box just as you say. Nasty heel bite but good fit on the Trango Extremes as well.
My combos have always been OK in terms of tightness, but what I have always disliked is that, as I wear EU47, most crampons don't 'cover' the sole very well. The side points are in from the edge of the sole, which can make edging and other footwork problematical. It's more for French technique and general cramponing than steep ice. Having your boot stick out from the side of your crampon means that the boot can hit the ice and stop the crampon side points penetrating properly, or have them shear out too easily.
It can also be at the back, trying to get the fit right so that the rear-most points are not half an inch in from the heel, as this can make stepping downhill more difficult. ie. a thin section of sole hits the ice and stops the points penetrating as far, or as cleanly.
Obviously some crampons, mainly BD, come in bigger sizes, but this is not always enough, and maybe I don't want to be limited to one type of crampon from one brand.
I find it strange that something so critical usually just comes in one size, when it's meant to fit onto something that comes in about ten sizes!
Hi to you all. I've been following ukc forums for years, but finally my first post.
So here's my combo, I'm using Scarpa Jorasses gtx boots size 43.5 (they have the GSB thingy) with Petzl M10 leverlock (+ anti snow plates)...this combo is bomber, seems to be a perfect fit...no crampon movement what so ever.
I have made a small modification to the crampons, on the heel part is those short metal stubs on both sides of the heel, I bended them a bit "tighter" (some minor adjustment with a hammer). So now the heel of the boot really sits well.
Hope this helps.
-OD- from Helsinki
Djupnes16 Jan 2011
In reply to Gazlynn:
I have the same issue. I'm currently using G14 with the super asymmetric bar. That combo works for fit but places the frontpoints at a weird inwards turned angle and the bail is far far too wide. had sabretooths as well but they fit horribly overall, the BD bail is also way too wide. Haven't tried petzl crampons yet.
I am using the g14s crampomatic but with the normal bars. The front bail on the g14s fit but way too wide plus had to move them to the innermost hole. I have tried the rambo 4s they didn't fit right at all because there was a big gap between the boot and the crampon at the front (sorry about the non technical language). I am going to have a look at the M10s as Snecos has advised above.
cheers and good luck.
Djupnes16 Jan 2011
In reply to Gazlynn:
Yeah good luck, a friend has a climbing shop stocking the full petzl range, going to take my boots there and try them all on for reference.
I get a feel that jorasses/freney are near impossible to fit perfectly so might be better off getting a different pair of boots when i wear them out, Asolo boots seem to fit my heel better anyway.
On another note, I've worn down my G14 frontpoints after only a quarter season, same with my x-monster picks, think I'm going petzl for my next kit.
In reply to Dane1:
I have nepal extremes and old charlet moser black ice crampons and I reckon the fit is pretty solid, there was a bit of movement at first but by doing the same as Sneco did, ie. bend the stubs in or out a bit as needed they now fit fine. Perhaps what it needed is for the crampon manufacturers to provide a fitting kit with various shims and stuff to adapt the fit to different boot makes and sizes.
In reply to Djupnes: Freneys fit rambos very well terminators pretty well once you've spent ages bending the toe bar and bd sabretooths clip WITHOUT the assym bar more than adequately. I suspect the new scarpa boots may be similar.
i have just taken delivery of some grivel rambo 4's and tried them on my salomon pro ice for the first time last night. The fit is terrible. I'd previously been using rambo 2's which fitted well. The 2's seem to curve up more at the front which is how my boots are shaped so they fit together quite well. The 4's have a huge gap under the end of the toe. I can see this being a major problem when front pointing. The 4's are very flat in comparison to the 2's.
I did not get much chance to play around with the adjustment last night so will have a go tonight but any advice other than buying new boots or crampons would be useful
In reply to Dane1: also I think one of the factors contributing to poor fit is the increased sole rocker of modern boots which makes them easier to walk in. Would a solution be to add rocker to the cramps?
> To the OP was the short-lived GSB system one of the better solutions?
I didn't buy that GSB option myself so have no experience with it. I think the issue might well have been people generally buy the boot that fits first then worry about the crampons after that. I do certainly as it has only been the last decade or so that things have become such a mis match of sorts.
GSB was likely way ahead of its time but I suspect we'll eventually see something similar or at least a "norm" established for toe and heel height width and design.
In reply to Dane1: Hi Dane, Great topic and always enjoy your blog!
Can you or anyone suggest wire toe bail alternatives for Petzl Darts that are suitable for thinner soled boots?
I had thought about mashing them up in a vice, but I fret about fatiguing the bail that picture of the bail-less Dart on your blog is quite worrying! If the alternative bail was burlier too, all the better...
> Can you or anyone suggest wire toe bail alternatives for Petzl Darts that are suitable for thinner soled boots?
Hopefully some one else can with a better idea. I have been climbing in Phantom Ultras lately as a single boot. Which I really like, enough to attempt a solution to over come the new toe profile. No question the Ultra has the thinnest and most narrow toe I have ever had to fit a crampon to. They are really getting into the range of a fruit boot with this one.
What finally helped was to move the toe bail to the rear adjustment hole then put them in a vice (eek!) and crank away. Obviously I run the risk of a faulty bail now but better than all the slop I was putting up with previous. There is a picture of both BD Sabertooth and Sercs using Petzl bails in the last blog entry with that set up.
Haven't done it to the Darts or Dartwins yet as I want to use them on by Spantiks shortly. The Sabers stripped are lighter than the Darts so I like the mate up of the Ultra and Sabers a bit better there as well.
>I fret about fatiguing the bail that picture of the bail-less Dart on >your blog is quite worrying! If the alternative bail was burlier too, all >the better...
I have been told the stainless wire used on the Petzl bails fatiques...or work hardens. Same issue either way, but easily fixed by changing bails out every, or every couple, of seasons. No easy answer here imo. Heavier wire would work fine if the bails were better designed for narrow and thin soled boot toes. Everyone's toe lip on the boots is about the same. It is the shape of the bail that is the issue not the diameter of the wire from what I see.
Petzl has looked to more modern sole shapes. Black Diamond worries about making/keeping their crampons available to the older Kolfachs, big dbl boots and while using over boots. So of course BD front bails are going to run big on a boot designed for sport mixed and really hard technical ice.
If you think about it the crampon manufactures have been put in an impossible situation. Not likely any crampon will fit perfectly on my Scarpa Ultras, and perfectly on my Spantiks.
To do it right would take a major redesign of some of the crampons to fit both ends of the spectrum. To fix it short term a better bail is an easy answer.
> (In reply to iksander)
> Not likely any crampon will fit perfectly on my Scarpa Ultras, and perfectly on my Spantiks.
I had a brief and furtive experiment with some display models of the Ultra and the Grivel G20 a while ago. Seemed pretty good at the time. Mind you, this was before you got all medieval on the acceptable definition of good!
How have you been getting on with the Ultras, by the way?
Likely the G20/ G22 might fit well with that new Grivel bail.
Medieval? Ha, Ha, not this first time I have been accused of going over board on what is a good crampon fit this week. But certainly the best
I really like the Ultra a lot. Fits my foot well (better than the Guide) and easy to walk or climb in. Enough ankle support for good bits of steep water ice. Just warm enough for winter cragging in the Rockies. Sticky rubber soles. Durability is an obvious worry and not easy to replace here in the States. Only wished they had added a carbon fiber mid sole..then these things would really be amazing...likely wouldn't walk as well though. Nothing is free.
I see you had the guides too, what did you find a good fit on them? I have a pair of black diamond cyborg pros and the only niggle is the front wire being too wide and not sitting in enough.
The back is bomber and needs body weight to set it in well.
> I see you had the guides too, what did you find a good fit on them? I have a pair of black diamond cyborg pros and the only niggle is the front wire being too wide and not sitting in enough.
I asked Petzl their suggestion to actually fit Darts to the Guide. No problem with that combo was their answer. And to be fair many Petzl and Black Diamond sponsored climbers using both brands of crampons in stock form on the Guides. Will Sim is using Cyborgs on his 6000s which are as thin in the sole as the Ultra. He seems to do wiull enough
I would prefer a much better fit as would BD which is why they are working on the issue and a new bail.
Guide is actually easier to fit to a crampon than the Ultra as the sole is thicker and not as narrow. Try the Petzl front bail and then tweak in a vice as required would be my thought. It should easy in comparison to the Ultra.
Matching? Yes both hands on one axe....as in climbing one tool at a time. An aquired taste. I acquired it after i ripped off my bicep.. both.. thankfully almost a year apart But much faster way to climb ice once you decide you won't die doing it. I had a full season of top ropes to help ease that fear. Seems almost normal now as long as you are using a shaft with a 2nd grip.
Damo, I'll be in SLC this week doing daily updates from the OR show on the blog. And maybe, just maybe, with one of my Ultras in hand to see just what does really fit
> (In reply to iksander)
> If you think about it the crampon manufactures have been put in an impossible situation. Not likely any crampon will fit perfectly on my Scarpa Ultras, and perfectly on my Spantiks.
> To do it right would take a major redesign of some of the crampons to fit both ends of the spectrum. To fix it short term a better bail is an easy answer.
Thanks Dane. Maybe they could be encouraged to manufacture two bails, one for thin soled boots, one for thicker/ HA boots?
> Thanks Dane. Maybe they could be encouraged to manufacture two bails, one for thin soled boots, one for thicker/ HA boots?
I believe that is a real possibility but not until there is a ground swell of customers demanding they do just that. It starts by all of us asking at your local retail store, calling the local distributors and asking for both bails and finally and likely the most important, emailing the crampon manufacture of your choice if you have a fit issue now and asking they do soemthing about it.
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