What’s was your breakthrough Crampon’s?

I was given a pair of crampons that never fitted my boots when I started winter climbing in1972. The crampons were heated and adjust to the boots. Mine had been heated and reheated a few times and one broke on my first winter day on the very remote Mullach na Dheiragan near Iron lodge at the back of Kintail. The hill was so icy I wore one crampon all the way to the road. As I found out the crampon broke due to metal fatigue. They had 12 points and huge leather straps that froze up in winter with metal buckles. They were not easy to put on especially on a winters day. In the end I bought pair of in those days state of the art crampons.

Very like these crampons my first ones !

It’s amazing how we got up a few routes with bendy boots and these crampons. Nothing hard climbs like the Runnel in Coire Ant Sneachda Red Gully and the Vent in Lochan. Many times the crampons came off in these early days. My next pair I am sure we’re Salewa Adjustable a bit like a Meccano kit. But were a lot better fit as you could adjust them.

My pal on my first trip ice Climbing in Canada bought a pair of Footfangs. They were so good on the steep ice of Canada a huge breakthrough at the time. We were wary of the Ski heel attachment at first but that’s history.

So when you take seconds to put on your flash new crampons have a thought for all the faffing we did on the past. Frozen hands, broken straps and crampons. My dog (Teallach) in the photo below is asleep due to the time even putting on fairly modern crampons. I still have nightmares of helping folks wearing crampons with frozen hands especially if you had more than one inexperienced person with you.

Any memories and photos? Comments welcome.

An early drawing by Bugs Mc Keith on Waterfall Ice in Canada early 80’s. This was a big pull on us going on that early trip to Canada where we were abseiling of piping tubes.( That’s another story)

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 Gear, Ice climbing Canada, Mountaineering, People, Scottish winter climbing.. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to What’s was your breakthrough Crampon’s?

  1. Jim higgins says:

    My first crampons were cassin 12 pointers with crossover leather buckles. Bloomin murder trying to fit the straps with freezing fingers getting the buckle pin to go through those wee holes in the strap. My next pair were cassin again but this time with neoprene crossover straps and quick release buckles. A bit easier to fit. I used step ins which were fitted to three quarter fibreglass shanked boots which were kind of universal. They were semi flexible boots and the crampons had spring steel rib that flexed with the boot. More for winter walks and scrambles and would hold up on a grade 2. I did central gully on Beinn Laoigh wearing them although I must admit I was scared they would pop off. Something bombproof about crossovers. I just felt a lot safer with them.


  2. First rigid crampons designed by Tom Frost, manufactured by Chouinard Equipment, mid 1970s. Tom told me how he came up with the idea, carefully studying various boot/crampon marks in the snow and ice on his team’s ascent of Annapurna. A versatile rigid crampon design that could be adjusted to fit any boot perfectly.


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