Wow, this is a brilliant thread.
It speaks volumes to the intrinsic knowlege embeded deep in other cultures that is so often and so easily overlooked.
I not only gained a deep insight into Japanese culture... one that now seems obvious to me after stories, photos and first hand accounts from friends and others regarding climbing mount fuji in Japan, but it also reaffirms the value in great research over simply creative thinking, the wisdom carried by elders, the value in digging deep into history and other cultures... and once again the brilliant catalyst that are the Backpacking light message boards. Thank you!
Nylon stockings braided into rope wrapped around shoes for snow traction by little old ladies who climb mountains in Japan. That's brilliant. Positively an original Grandma Gatewood moment. I hope one day as a little old man I will still be hiking up mountains with such practical wisdom.
And btw, the kids these days just don't know what they're missing with their video games and their text messaging. One day they'll learn the simple pleasures and silence to be found in the real world have so much more to teach them then the wonders of cable tv, video games and their IM's. LOL.
But enough salutations!
I'm a UL bicycle tourer, aka. bikepacker... and maybe a sometimes UL backpacker. I've been doing research for months on and off on ultralight snowchains. And I have discovered some pretty ingenious ideas. The most successful of which is zipties thanks to a portland bicycle commuter blog. These work brilliantly on my big fat 29 x 2.1 inch tires with disc brakes so far. We're talking about 3.5 ounces per wheel! Big fat 175lb zip ties. Tremendous traction. Long wear. Light weight.
Have been generally pleased, but then the other day I saw a video from a fellow UL'r and hammocker from MN on Youtube and though I'd seen Yaktrax before I had never given them a second glance. Something about the rubberized material and the metal wire stuck in my head though when he reviewed the product.
You see, there are two small imperfections in my studded tires. First, they do wear on the sidewalls of my tires, eventually this wear could cause the tire to fail. A bit of duck tape alleviates this, but not entirely.
Second, nylon while awesome lacks the ability to dig into ice, i.e. black ice.
As I sat staring at this video rewatching it several times I found myself thinking about the comparisons between crampons on boots and snowchains on tires.
There was something elemental to it.
I didn't even know for sure what it was.
So, I came over hear tonight and started using google to mine references to crampons and yaktrax hoping that some shared issues that I have with snow chains would reveal themselves spontaneously in a discussion on UL crampons.
Oh dear backpacking light members thankyou for you did not disappoint. Thank you most especially to Miguel D Arboleda who started this thread. Thanks for sharing your moment of inspiration.
"When I first saw them I thought all of their boots had their soles come loose, since all of them were wearing what looked like white ropes tied around the forefoot of their boots, then I realized they were wearing homemade "crampons". They insisted in giving us their pairs for our climb. What they handed us were a pair of 90 cm (3 ft) long ropes made of braided nylon stockings that you wrapped and bound around the shoe, using the sponge-like quality of the nylon to grip the snow. It was ingenious and worked surprisingly well!"
Here's what I've learned...
1) The chafing on the tires by my ultralight snowchains, aka. zip ties... is not unlike the maring I experieced on my beautiful leather boots the first time I went snow showing when I was in college. The problem is partly of course that the zip ties have abrasive ridges on them and are made of a harder material (nylon) then the tires. This is resolved by the duct tape. However there is something more I overlooked. The zip ties don't stretch and move like the rubber tires.. What better might I use then an actuall piece of rubber, or even something that's softer then the tire itself.... like nylon, as in ladies nylons. Does this mean I'm going to braid some rope out of ladies nylons? Nope. read on.
2) The second issue i still have is traction on ice. Ice is much harder then snow. My immediate reaction is I need some sort of metal on my UL snow chains however the issue on ice does not necessarily require I have metal twine or metal studs on my snow chains. The truely brilliant thing is I only need something as hard as ice. And what's as hard as ice... well ice. As Miguel seems to suggest the nylons actually collect snow. Over the course of use of these nylons as ultralight crampons the pressure and friction no doubt gradually pads and impregnates these nylons with hardened snow... snow hardened until it to is as hard as ice.
3) this reminds me of one other story, the eskimos would build wood sleds and in the winter they'd pull them out and pour hot water down the runners letting that water freeze, scraping it of and repeating the process again and again. This process saturated the wood with water which would then freeze leaving the runners impregnated with ice as hard as or even harder then the ice and snow they'd be sliding over.
What I'm guessing if I was to find a equivelent to these ladies nylons... something that gave and stretched a tiny bit trapping and collecting snow and ice particles and I was to roll it through hot water in the freezing cold... ride it a bit and then repeat the process again several times... that I'd end up with an ultralight snowchain which would give me enough traction on black ice that I'd at least have predictible traction.
That said... the experiment is not the end intended result. 99% of the time I'm winter touring I'll be on perfectly paved roads. It is only on rare occasions that I'll be in heavy snow and on roads with the potential for black ice. Hence I need something I can install (possibly only on the front tire) in 5-10 minutes and ride for a morning, or a day, or however long it takes until the conditions no longer favor black ice.