Basic division of crampons

Crampons are the device provided with metal points, connect to the boots and allow the progress on the snow and ice. They are essential gear for mountaineering in winter or icy terrain. Construction wise are the crampons divided into two groups:

  1. hinged
  2. rigid

Hinged crampons

They consist of two main parts, which are connected by a movable part. The front and rear parts of the crampon can therefore move towards each other. That’s why hinged crampons are comfortable for walking. Therefore, they are mainly designed for high altitude hiking, glacier walking, etc.

Rigid crampons

The whole base frame of crampon is rigid. These crampons are preferred for ice climbing, and generally for any movement in very steep terrain, where we use the front points. The second pair of points noticeably forward-facing, which contributes to increased stability of crampons stuck in the ice.

Left: hinged crampons - right: rigid crampons.

Left: hinged crampons – right: rigid crampons.

Types of front points

There are two types of front points:

  • horizontal
  • vertical

Horizontal points are mostly used on hinged crampons designed for walking on the snow. They lean on the snow by its horizontal surface during the progress up the slope. On the other hand they are harder to stick into the ice.

Horizontal pair of front points.

Horizontal pair of front points.

Vertical points can be found mainly with rigid crampons, are suitable for hard ice. And on the contrary in a softer firn snow they are cutting through and their hold is poorer.

Vertical pair of front points

Vertical pair of front points

Shapes of the points

Current crampons are produced mostly as 12-points. The first two pairs of points are forward-facing and are used for progress on toes, and then we are talking about progress on the front points of crampons. The bottom edge of front vertical points is provided with teeth, enhancing the gripping of the point in the ice (point does not slip backwards). The shape of the points can sometimes vary; on their surface is either cavity or bulge, which increases their strength against bending.

Since the vertical points tend to cut through the softer ice (firn snow), the cross section of the front points is usually of the “T” profile, with the profile widening towards the back. If the ice is hard, the vertical point hold, but only its small part is stuck, so the “T” profile will not go near the ice. Once the ice is softer, and there would be a danger of vertical point cutting through, the point will naturally stick deeper into the soft ice (firn) together with the “T” profile and its horizontal widening will prevent the downward cutting of the point.

Front points with “T” profile.

Front points with “T” profile.

Some crampons models allow the user to set the forward setting of the front points, so if we know, that we will progress in a softer firn snow, we’ll set the points more protruding, to be able to dig them deeper to a place where the firn is more icy and harder, and the points will hold better hold and we will stand better.

Middle point with “L” profile.

Middle point with “L” profile.

Also, the fourth pair of points (approximately in the middle of the crampon) is due to the cutting of vertical points shaped in the profile of the letter “L”. This pair of points is designed to prevent cutting through of the crampon points during flat stepping upon a surface of the snow (firn) with a crampon oriented along the fall line of the slope. In this situation, and also during the descent, when we more or less step on the heels, plays its role also the last pair of crampon points. These points are turned 45° to the longitudinal edge of crampons, and thus have a grip in the soft ice (firn), when other points tend to cut through.

Heel points of crampon.

Heel points of crampon.

More in e-book.

Title Part 2Mountaineering Methodology – Part 2 – Gear and Accessories

ISBN 978-80-87715-08-6

MMPublishing, 2013

Available for download from Apple iTunes (in the Books section).

For example U.S. store – link

Another countries – look on the page Download

See layout.

Another possibility is Google Play. This version is a simplified (as PDF).

Title Part 2 GPMountaineering Methodology – Part 2 – Gear and Accessories

ISBN 978-80-87715-13-0

MMPublishing, 2014

Available for download from Google Play.