Early winter tales – keeping away from the winter blues? Care of Crampons


Early winter days not much light in early winter.

The photo above is of a great early winter day in Torridon when we were chasing Corbetts it seems so long ago but so worth while to get out despite the long drive. I am looking forward to getting out soon after I finish my spell of injections 6 in a two week spell which is making me feel a bit low key.   Anyway this weekend I am off to Glen Clova with the Moray Club to see how I am going so must sort out the gear.

Jockie Marr on Beinn Eighe you need to ensure your gera is good in winter. Photo R. Bale.

My pal Dan was up on Beinn Eighe last week and had snow form 600 metres and wore his crampons along the ridge so I must get mine out and check them. Dan had a great day out and I have been hearing from so many who are enjoying this early winter snow.  Have you checked your gear out for the winter well worth looking after your kit and checking its all serviceable.

Maybe time to get some more modern ones easy to put on but always check each others.

In my days with the team we did all the checks on crampons and had to ensure they were serviceable at all times. It was always checking the axe and crampons and it was simple basic checks, checking for cracks, straps, sharpness etc. Ensuring they were carried safely in a crampon bag we used to make our own. My first crampons broke 1972  as they had been modified in workshops to fit several boots. On a call – out about one third of the teams crampons had problems and only a few of us made the steep climb to lower two climbers down from the back of Coire Eoghain on Ben Nevis. After that I bought my own and how ell they supported me over the years.   You learn quickly in the winter.

A great article on crampons from UKC


Crampons are amazingly durable given the abuse they are constantly subjected too.  However, because they have such a hard time it’s important to give them some TLC.  Inspection of their moving parts, fabric strapping, nuts, bolts and rivets, binding system and the metal frame and points should be done on a regular basis – far better to deal with it in the comfort of your living room than on the summit of Stob Ban!

Most crammies come with very sharp spikes and whether you need to keep them that sharp once they start to get worn really depends what you are using them for.  If you’re using them for general hillwalking and mountaineering you can run them a little blunter without adversely affecting their performance, where as if you are putting up a new uber ice route you will want those babies to slice into that delicate ice with the minimum of fracturing.  Either way, at some point you are going to need to sharpen them and a hand file is the way to go.  Don’t use an electric grinder as it can affect the temper of the metal.  It’s also better to hold them in place with a clamp or vice rather than honing them over the leather back seat of a car en route to Scotland as I’ve known my mate Davy do!

Emergency repairs

Trouble is, even with regular inspections, crampons do break.  Luckily it isn’t very often but if it happens and you can’t sort out the problem you are going to be hopping mad (get it?!).  It is well worth carrying a simple repair kit to deal with the unexpected.  I carry a long strap and buckle, multi tool with pliers and screwdriver, duct tape, a few long cable ties, a few suitably sized nuts and bolts and a length of durable bendy wire.

Most manufacturers make a wide range of crampons, from lightweight trekking models, through to super tough, super technical top of the range spikes.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Enviroment, Equipment, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Early winter tales – keeping away from the winter blues? Care of Crampons

  1. Jane Gealy says:

    My partner is climbing Everest next year. He’s no stranger to extreme sports as we ran an adventure group for 12 years and I’m writing about our experiences. Stay safe!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jane Gealy says:

    Tibet. He’s currently training hard and eating us out of house and home!


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