Introduction to Crampons
Crampons are necessary on all summit climbs and mountaineering expeditions, as they are the only piece of equipment attaching your feet to the mountain. Crampons are needed on vertical ice walls or steep slopes, and are essential on glaciers, snowfields, etc.
We know what you are thinking – and no, they are not called “clamp on’s.” Crampon is a French word, first designed in 1908 in a 10-point style. More recently, two additional points (actually called “tines”) were added to the front of the device to aid front-point climbing. These are the crampons most commonly used today.
For most Northwest Alpine Guides climbs and courses we recommend 12-point steel mountaineering crampons. The crampons you select should also include an anti-snow balling plate and a safety strap. The strapping or attachment system is determined by the style of boots you select and the conditions you will climb in.
Three primary styles:
- Steel wire (toe bale) across the front of the crampon which fits into the boots front toe welt, with a rear-hinged buckle that snaps tightly onto the rear boot welt. These include an ankle safety strap.
- Plastic basket (toe bale) in the front of the crampon which fits snugly over the boots front toe box. These include a rear-hinged buckle that snaps tightly onto the rear boot welt. These include a safety buckling strap.
- Plastic basket (toe bale) in the front of the crampon which fits snugly over the boots front toe box, with a rear plastic basket (rear bale) which fits snugly behind the boots heel. These also include a safety buckling strap.
Our favorite crampon brands and styles:
Boot Welt Types
There are a few considerations when buying crampons specific to your boots. Does your boot have a toe welt or not? Boots with toe welts can be used in conjunction with any crampon style. However, boots that do not have a toe welt will require use of plastic basket crampons.
Do not hesitate to reach out to Northwest Alpine Guides with any questions on finding the right type of crampons or boots for you.