Crampons are essential gear for mountaineering and ice climbing, but they endure significant abuse with each use. To ensure they remain in peak condition, here are some tips to follow.
Before embarking on any climbing trip, it's crucial to inspect your crampons thoroughly:
- Check for loose screws and rivets, tightening or replacing them as necessary.
- Examine the condition of straps and buckles; replace them if they show signs of wear.
- Ensure that the bails, the metal attachments that secure your boots, are in good shape and still match the contour of your boots.
- Pay attention to the boot-crampon interface; make sure your boot welts provide a secure fit for both the toe and heel.
- Always carry essential tools like a wrench, bailing wire, and spare parts (straps, bails, and screws) to address any unexpected issues that may arise on the mountain.
Keep Them Sharp
Crampon points can become dull, especially after encounters with rocky terrain. Proper sharpening is essential:
- Sharpen with a flat mill bastard (hand file), filing in the direction of the file's teeth.
- Avoid using a grinding wheel, as it generates heat that can weaken the metal over time.
- File the sides and points as sharp as possible, maintaining a straight line from the frame to the tip.
- If any points are bent, carefully straighten them.
Protect Yourself and Your Gear
While sharp crampon teeth enhance performance on icy surfaces, they can also pose risks to your clothing, skin, and ropes. Consider these options for crampon storage:
- Padded crampon cases: These are a convenient choice, typically made from puncture-resistant nylon.
- Rubber point covers: A less bulky and more cost-effective alternative that will remove sharp points from the equation.
Always make sure your crampons are completely dry prior to storage to prevent corrosion. If you plan to store them for an extended period, coat them with a light oil or a water-displacement spray like WD-40.
By following these maintenance guidelines, you'll extend the longevity of your crampons and keep them operating at peak performance.