/ Front point angle/vertical ice

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NottsRich on 07 Feb 2019

I had a re-introduction to ice last weekend and remembered a problem I had last season. The front points on my crampons (DB Cyborgs) feel like they point down too much, like the silver point in this picture rather than the orange point.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-txIfeQib-yk/VNlNnBEYkUI/AAAAAAAAIig/9Pf01VqJaRk/s1600/Crampon%2Bheels%2B003.jpg

The front points have been sharpened a fair few times, but still maintain the same tip angle/profile, and they've not lost much length (still have another to compare to). I converted the crampons to monos half way through last season and still noticed the same issue.

This means that when I kick into vertical ice it feels like it's the top edge of the front point trying to bite into the ice, rather than the actual point. I don't often get good foot placements first time. I can get around this a bit by dropping my heel right down when kicking to make the point closer to horizontal, like this: https://cdn.ukc2.com/i/188043.jpg

This helps but it still doesn't feel right. Especially considering a good foot placement is more akin to this: https://cdn.ukc2.com/i/188041.jpg

Just wondered if anyone else had similar problems or noticed significant differences between crampons, or if it's just me and a technique thing. It's bugged me for a while now. For example, has anyone used different crampons where the front point angles varies like in the first link up there, and noticed a difference when climbing ice? Or does that angle make no difference in reality?

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brunoschull - on 07 Feb 2019
In reply to NottsRich:

OK, here goes.  Disclaimer:  I've been ice climbing for a while, but I'm no expert.  I'm just a regular weekend warrior like most.

Just to get it out of the way, you've probably heard the general ice climbing advice, "Keep your heels down."  An ideal ice climbing foot position, which may be an ideal that is rarely reached, might be something between the two foot-angle pictures you posted.  As an alternative to "keep your toes down," just another way to think about it that can help some people, is, "Keep your toes up" (engage the shin muscle that raises your toe).  Yet another piece of advice that helps some people is to forget about the front points (!) and concentrate on kicking in the secondary points.

On both the crampons your showed (Lynx and Cyborg?) the secondary points are far behind the toe of the boot--especially on the crampon in the background.  I can't see where the toe bail is positioned on the crampon in the background, but on the Lynx you could shift it forward by one hole.  This would at least get your secondary points (and the main point) more forward, which I anticipate would help at great deal.  It does change the balance and feel, but on anything but very cold and hard ice, or dry tooling, having the points in a more forward position is often preferable.  If you find that you don't have any adjustment holes left, and you still want to move you points forward, consider changing to a new toe bail.

I don't know if that crampon in the background is your crampon, but, if so, Good God man, get some new front points!  To my eye, they look short, somewhat rounded/dull, and very worked over with a file--perhaps best relegated to low consequence rocky scrambling.  Get some new BD points, or check out Krukongo and Kuznia--good quality stuff, and they might have a different shape/orientation than the stock points. 

To answer your last question, I think that the length, angle, and placement of the front points, and the configuration of the secondary points, and the relationship of everything to particular boots, ankle flexibility, climbing style, ice, and so on, is very important, and often overlooked.  I would try a bunch of different crampons (Borrow from friends?  Trade with others?) or climb with one crampon on one foot, and another type on the other foot, to compare.  Hopefully, with some experimentation, you will find one that works for you. 

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NottsRich on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to brunoschull:

> OK, here goes.  Disclaimer:  I've been ice climbing for a while, but I'm no expert.  I'm just a regular weekend warrior like most.

> Just to get it out of the way, you've probably heard the general ice climbing advice, "Keep your heels down."  An ideal ice climbing foot position, which may be an ideal that is rarely reached, might be something between the two foot-angle pictures you posted. 

Thanks, I'd been aiming for a flatter foot based on explanations like halfway down this: https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/skills/steep_ice_climbing_technique-4316, but this felt wrong especially when combined with the front point angle I've got.

As an alternative to "keep your toes [heels?] down," just another way to think about it that can help some people, is, "Keep your toes up" (engage the shin muscle that raises your toe).  Yet another piece of advice that helps some people is to forget about the front points (!) and concentrate on kicking in the secondary points.

Thanks, good suggestions.

> On both the crampons your showed (Lynx and Cyborg?) the secondary points are far behind the toe of the boot--especially on the crampon in the background.  I can't see where the toe bail is positioned on the crampon in the background, but on the Lynx you could shift it forward by one hole.  This would at least get your secondary points (and the main point) more forward, which I anticipate would help at great deal.  It does change the balance and feel, but on anything but very cold and hard ice, or dry tooling, having the points in a more forward position is often preferable.  If you find that you don't have any adjustment holes left, and you still want to move you points forward, consider changing to a new toe bail.

Not my crampons, just examples I found to illustrate the change in front point angle I was trying to explain. One thing I have noticed though, which you comment made me remember, is that my secondary points very rarely engage when climbing water ice. Is that normal? This is what first made me notice that the front point/s don't engage very securely in the ice (not deep enough to engage 2nd points), and made me notice the (excessively?) downturned angle of the points.

> I don't know if that crampon in the background is your crampon, but, if so, Good God man, get some new front points!  To my eye, they look short, somewhat rounded/dull, and very worked over with a file--perhaps best relegated to low consequence rocky scrambling.  Get some new BD points, or check out Krukongo and Kuznia--good quality stuff, and they might have a different shape/orientation than the stock points. 

Good suggestion of Krukongo etc, I'll have a look and see what they offer.

> To answer your last question, I think that the length, angle, and placement of the front points, and the configuration of the secondary points, and the relationship of everything to particular boots, ankle flexibility, climbing style, ice, and so on, is very important, and often overlooked.  I would try a bunch of different crampons (Borrow from friends?  Trade with others?) or climb with one crampon on one foot, and another type on the other foot, to compare.  Hopefully, with some experimentation, you will find one that works for you. 

This is what I was looking for. I feel that length and angle of front points is really important, but rarely (if ever?) mentioned. Perhaps most people just have a system that works and so are unaware of it, and it's relatively infrequent to find a problem? Either way, I'll try to find some others to borrow and see what the differences are. Good idea using two different crampons. Might be one to try on an ice wall somewhere. Sounds like it's half technique and half equipment, so I have an excuse to look at some shiney stuff. Thanks for your comments.

Post edited at 09:28
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GarethSL on 08 Feb 2019
In reply to NottsRich:

Just compared the BD Cyborgs to a pair of grivel G22's and an old pair of Darts.

Like you say the frontpoints have a far more aggressive drop on the Cyborgs than the others, something I hadn't ever really noticed. I imagine the reasoning behind this more aggressive point angle is to aid in the transfer of power from the foot to the tip of the points once they have been engaged in the ice. Though this angle does seem to make the engaging part appear more challenging.

I remember Cyborgs being pretty solid on ice but haven't used them in years as I had the BD stingers which certainly didn't have such an aggressive drop, despite using the same frontpoint.

Anyway, re the advice above, getting those secondary points in action can really make a difference. Petzl crampons are notorious for having quite short secondary points I find. Grivel seem to have the most metal for you to play with, but an on boot comparison between the G22 and the Cyborgs its quite difficult to see much difference.

Post edited at 10:14
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