Tuesday, May 3, 2016

How to Sharpen Crampons

After running a blog about sharpening ice screws, we had a request on how to sharpen crampons.

Mixed climbing, moving from an ice climb onto a rock climb and then back, can be very hard on technical crampons. Most mixed climbers who get out a long will need to sharpen their cramponsat least once a season. We found the following video from mixed climber Stephen Kotch on how to sharpen technical crampons for mixed terrain:

General mountaineering often also requires one to sharpen crampons. It's not uncommon for a mountaineer to walk from ice or snow onto a rock feature and then back onto the ice. In the short term, this has a minimal impact on one's equipment. However, in the long term crampons can become dangerously dull.

Following is a quick breakdown of how to sharpen your mountaineering crampons:

  1. Mountaineering crampons get beat up. You move over all kinds of terrain in them, so in addition to getting dull, they often get quite dirty. Before sharpening your "poons," you're going to want to rinse them down and clean them off.
  2. Some people will put the crampons into a vice while sharpening them. If you elect to do this, be sure not to place them in such a way that the vice-grip will warp the crampons. On many models, you can detach the toe from the heel and place each section in the vice without the threat of damaging them. However, this will be model-dependent. You'll notice that Stephen simply holds the crampons. He does this bare-handed, but you may want to wear leather gloves to protect your fingers.
  3. Be sure to file the edges down toward the point. Do not file the broad side of the crampon point as this will weaken the teeth. You should not be making the points "thinner."
  4. Once you've completed the process of sharpening, wash and wipe down your crampons. Make sure there are no burrs or chips in them.
  5. If your crampons have been sharpened many times and the points seem to be getting thin or weirdly shaped, then it might be time to replace them.

Final Tip:

When you come out of the mountains, make sure that your crampons are completely dry before storing them away. If you put them away before they dry out, next time you want to use them, you will find them covered in rust.

--Jason D. Martin

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