A classic 12-point crampon that will cover you from winter walking, though mountaineering, to climbing at a respectable level, the Nuptse Evo represents great value for money, says Tom Ripley.
I think twelve point mountaineering crampons are underrated. When the climbing gets remotely technical many climbers (including myself) ditch them in favour of something sexier - but these are often heavier and always more expensive. In my experience the most important thing when it comes to crampons is not the shape and number of spikes so much as how sharp they are. From basic winter walking, through classic mountaineering to surprisingly hard winter climbing, you can do a lot with a 12-point model.
These days I have two pairs on the go, an older blunter pair for general mountaineering and mixed climbing and a sharp pair, with slightly longer front points, reserved for ice.
The Nuptse Evo is a classic 12 point crampon, with horizontal front points and anti balling plates. The pair I was sent to review have a semi-automatic binding, making them ideal for using with B2 and B3 boots, but not suitable for use with ski mountaineering boots, which in my experience require a wire bail for a secure fit. It is also possible to purchase the Nuptse Pro with a fully automatic binding, or at the opposite extreme a fully strap-on binding.
The front and rear sections of the Nuptses are separated by a horizontal steel bar, which makes them nice and compact when not in use. The steel bar adds stiffness, making these crampons a good option for using with B3 boots. They will work well on stiffer B2 boots, but you may struggle to get a secure fit on particularly bendy B2s (B1.5?). In the past when I have experienced this problem I have replaced the rigid bar with a sprung steel bar. This flexes a little, offering a more secure fit on less stiff boots. CT make a sprung steel bar, which they call the flex bar, but I've not had cause to need it with the Nuptse Evo.
This is not a particularly lightweight model, but instead it favours durability - which seems sensible in an all-round mountaineering crampon which will see plenty of abuse on a variety of terrain. On my kitchen scales the pair of Nuptse Evos, semi-automatic version, weighs 1040g - exactly the same as my old G12s, but quite a bit heavier than the Petzl Vasak (860g). This is slightly over CT's stated weight of 1000g, but perhaps they're not including the anti-balling plates.
Fitting and adjustment
These crampons have good range of adjustment, and I have successfully fitted the Nuptse to a number of mountaineering different boots. They fit my Scarpa Mont Blanc Pros excellently and I have done most of my climbing this season wearing this combination.
There are many ways you can fine tune the fit of these crampons. A simple spring loaded pin on the rear section allows the bars to be adjusted, altering the length of the crampon. For climbers with smaller feet there is a second stopper, meaning the boots can fit a wide variety of sizes. Having largish feet I haven't been able to try this, but I'm sure it works fine. Unlike some crampons I have used the bars only have a single line of holes, meaning that you cannot increase the crampon's curvature for a better fit on more asymmetric boots.
The position of the heel clip can also be adjusted. There are two holes on the rear section, which allows its tension to be adjusted depending on fit. There is also a screw on flip itself, which allows further refinement. In short there is a plenty of scope for fine tuning the fit of the Nuptses, and with enough fiddling they will probably fit most boots.
Like most mountaineering crampons on the market today the Nuptse are supplied with anti-balling plates as standard. Even though in some snow conditions they aren't necessary, I would never remove anti-bailing plates from a pair of crampons that were supplied with them. This is because when snow is sticky they can be a real life saver. The CT anti-bailing plates are well made, from a hard plastic that has an element of flex. The theory behind the flex is that its movement helps displace balled up snow. In my experience they work excellently and I am yet to experience severe balling while using them.
The points on the CT Nuptse are shorter than other crampons I have used, making them more stable on rocky mixed ground, and perfect for classic alpinism and Scottish ridges. The horizontal front points aren't excessively long making the Nuptse a good all round crampon. In my experience shorter front points are more useful for mixed climbing, mountaineering, and classic alpinism, whilst longer points are better for ice climbing. That said the Nuptse are more than capable of climbing Ben Nevis gullies and the like, but they wouldn't be my crampon of choice for a week's cascade climbing. Also the secondary points are vertical, rather than the slightly more aggressive forward-angled version found on more technical crampons. In my experience vertical secondary points are better for mountaineering, compared to the aggressive versions which favour pure ice, and offer more support when front pointing.
Binding and Straps
The bindings on my pair comprise a rear heel clip, and a front section made from flexible yet durable plastic. A nylon strap with a quick release buckle (similar to that found on most climbing harnesses) secures the binding. As usual this strap was a lot longer than it needed to be, so once fitted to my boots I used a hot knife to cut it down to an appropriate length.
In my experience semi-automatic bindings are highly versatile and offer a good fit on B3 boots, and more bendy B2 boots. It wouldn't be my first choice of binding for using with a plastic Ski Mountaineering boots or very stiff double boots like La Sportiva Spantiks. I have found this type of binding does not fit these types of boot particularly securely, and the few occasion I've had a crampon come off has been when I've used semi-automatic crampons on such boots.
The Nuptses are supplied with a very basic crampon bag with a Velcro closure. While it is isn't the most refined design I have seen, it is more than good enough for its intended usage.
These crampons certainly feel more than up to the job, but without doing a controlled test, comparing them to various equivalent crampons, it is difficult to comment on their durability in any meaningful way. So far this season I've used them mainly for mixed climbing, and they still feel impressively sharp. Sharp enough to climb soft Scottish snow ice in any case.
I think the Climbing Technology Nuptse Evo are a great all round crampon, with a tried and tested binding system and robust anti-balling plates. There is nothing particularly exciting or innovative about them - however this is no bad thing as the they follow a classic design, which isn't broken, and therefore didn't need fixing! The crampons are perfect for any climbers/mountaineers who want one crampon to do everything. They will work well in all settings, from introductory winter walking right through to hard Scottish mixed climbing. Perhaps their one week point is sustained steep ice, on which a more aggressive-angled set of secondary points might provide more security. Although there are lighter crampons on the market, the Nuptse Evo is of comparable weight to some other popular twelve point crampons, and it reflects their overall durable feel. With a retail price of £100, significantly cheaper than comparable models from other leading brands, I think the Climbing Technology Nuptse Evo is exceptionally good value for money.
Climbing Technology say:
12 point crampons for alpinism, goulottes and mixed climbing.
- Weight - Classic: 945g; Semi-automatic 1000g; Automatic 995g
- Made from tempered painted steel
- Shaped frontal points to enhance progression on slopes
- Innovative macro-setting system to quickly switch from EU 36-43 size range to EU 42-47
- New double lever system for size adjustment, easy to operate with one hand only
- Dovetailed exchangeable ANTIBOTTS, equipped with bellows to prevent snow build-up beneath the crampon
- Classic version with tough plastic heel cradle and toe strap that will fit any stiffened winter boot
- Semi-automatic version offers a quick fit heel clip with tough plastic front straps for boots with a compatible sole unit
- Automatic version offers a quick fit heel clip with a front toe bail for boots with a compatible sole unit
- Canvas storage bag included
For more info see climbingtechnology.com
Tom Ripley has been climbing for over fifteen years in both the UK and abroad: personal highlights include an ascent of Denali's Cassin Ridge and first ascents in Patagonia and Peru. Tom is dedicated to sharing his obsession for all types of climbing through his work as a climbing instructor and guide.
Currently, Tom is part way through the British Mountain Guides' rigorous training scheme. And, as a trainee guide, he is qualified to guide and instruct rock climbing and mountaineering throughout the UK.
Whether you are interested in making the transition from indoor climbing to real rock, working towards your first lead climbs, gaining self-rescue skills, or climbing a classic route that has so far eluded you, Tom can help you achieve your goal. Staying safe, patience and adventure are always a priority. He can be contacted through his UKC profile.