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How to pick Crampons?


While the use for crampons is all the same, not all crampons are created equally.

Some are made from aluminum, others from steel. Some have 8 points, others 14. In general, crampon selection can be best determined based on the terrain that you’re climbing. What we choose for walking on snow while ski mountaineering will be much different than when we head out to climb vertical waterfall ice. Below are some of our favorite activities, and the crampons we choose for each. Most crampons come with different attachment styles, which are dictated by the boots they’ll adhere too. Be sure to pick correctly! There’s nothing worse than grabbing a mismatched pair of crampons and boots for your adventure.


Ski Mountaineering in the High Sierra

For High Sierra ski mountaineering, we typically grab the Petzl Leopard LLF, an ultra-light, 10-point aluminum crampon. Aluminum crampons are great for snow climbing because they’re ultra-light, but if there’s a chance we might encounter glacial ice or rock, we always opt for steel (Irvis or Irvis Hybrid). In general, aluminum crampons are best for Ski Mountaineering, where firm snow is our likely terrain, and weight savings are of the utmost importance.


Climbing Schools in South America

For non-technical glaciated peaks around the world, a classic 12-point mountaineering crampon is our top choice. We prefer the Petzl Vasak or Black Diamond Sabertooth  Horizontal front points ensure solid purchase in hard snow, and the steel material gives us good confidence in the spikes. Classic mountaineering boots can have toe and heel welts, or not, making the attachment style important when selecting a boot/crampon combo.


Semi-Technical High Altitude Peaks

As the terrain becomes more complex, we require higher precision and security out of our crampons. For technical mountaineering peaks, we look to the Petzl Sarken, where T-shaped front points offer better penetration of hard ice and increased security on mixed terrain. Most High Altitude boots have toe and heel welts, giving you options with how your crampons are attached.


Ice and Mixed Climbing

When the terrain approaches vertical, and waterfall ice and rock are predominant, we grab modular crampons, giving us choices with our front points (long or short mono-points, dual points, etc.). The Petzl Lynx and BD Cyborg give us the options we need as the terrain gets more complex. With ice climbing, we always prefer automatic crampons, giving us maximum security and connection to our boots.


The bottom line:

Whether it’s safety and security, or ease of walking, picking having the right tool for your objective will make your days in crampons a whole lot better.


Alpenglow Expeditions

For information on any of our other expeditions check out our website. For any questions call our office at 877-873-5376 or send us an email We hope to climb with you soon!