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Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea...
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Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea... on 10/27/2011 03:07:43 MDT Print View

Next summer I want to hit the sierras pretty early, and that will inevitably mean steep snow filled mountain passes to climb over. I have never used cramp-ons or ice axes, so this is new to me.

But I really don't want to wear boots. I like light, minimalist shoes. I have done many backpacking trips wearing just low cut converse chucks or similar shoes.
They worked fine, but I have a question: Would the flexibility of the shoe cause problems with cramp-ons? I know they do make cramp-ons for trail runners. If flexibility is an issue, would inserting a stiff plate in between the sole and insole solve that problem?

Basically what I am saying is, I want to traverse early summer snowfields and mountain passes with highly flexible sneakers.

Derek Goffin

Locale: North of England
Minimal shoes and crampons? on 10/27/2011 05:11:57 MDT Print View

This works, we do it all the time. Kahtoola steel are best. They have their limits on steep slopes but they fit trail runners and stay on. Grivel 10's also work but we have had them come off on very flexible shoes. Other rigid crampons break from flexing without stiffness of boots.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Crampons..... on 10/27/2011 06:16:15 MDT Print View

or Microspikes? You can easily use trailrunners with Microspikes or something similiar. Microspikes may twist on the shoe especially on steep traverses but I would take that combo again if I were crossing the Sierra in June. If it's later than June during a normal snow year I wouldn't even take even microspikes. They are not needed IMHO. I know other thru hikers used full crampons with trailrunners but I can't speak to how well the system worked.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Crampons..... on 10/27/2011 15:01:36 MDT Print View

How well do micro spikes work in serious mountaineering? I have always wondered about those things. When I say I want to start early, I mean really early. Could you use them with a more flexible mukluk style shoe for serious winter mountaineering?
I am really new to this, so obviously I am going to get experience before trying anything.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Crampons..... on 10/27/2011 17:33:00 MDT Print View

"When I say I want to start early, I mean really early. Could you use them with a more flexible mukluk style shoe for serious winter mountaineering?"

I'm not sure what you mean by serious mountaineering, but I will assume you mean situations where a mistake could be fatal, on unforgiving terrain. If that is the case, I would strongly recommend going with regular crampons to start with and then, with some experience under your belt, decide whether or not you could get away with micro spikes. I suspect you would stay with the regular crampons. Micro spikes have neither the depth of spike or structural support for steep, hard snow/ice.

Be very cautious, Justin. On serious snow/ice slopes, your first mistake can easily be your last.

Edited by ouzel on 12/09/2011 17:12:39 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
microspikes on 10/27/2011 20:36:30 MDT Print View

can come off or rotate on your shoe ... be aware of that

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: microspikes on 10/27/2011 20:43:29 MDT Print View

Rather than Microspikes, last weekend I carried YakTrax traction for my boots as I crossed snowy Mono Pass the California Trans-Sierra Dayhike. There was a possibility that I could get into some gnarly snow and ice, so I carried tiny rolls of duct tape. I figure I would run the tape right around the instep of each foot, and that would hold them on in case they were loose.


drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea... on 10/27/2011 21:35:09 MDT Print View

Kahtoola crampons should work fine as long as you fit them properly. Microspikes can work well, but I don't like how the element under the ball of the foot digs in. It dug in hard enough that it created a permanent bulge in my trail running shoes.

Richard Fischel
How well do micro spikes work in serious mountaineering on 10/28/2011 07:47:51 MDT Print View

the first time you find yourself step kicking or needing to front point in mukluks and microspikes you will have wished you'd been wearing proper boots and crampons. sure there are those that climb k2 in huarache sandals, but that's not you, at least not yet. while it's not everybody's learning curve, you can start out easy or start out over-equipped. under experienced and under equipped is a bad combination anywhere, but particularly in the mountains on snow and ice. once you get out you will be amazed at what a little bit of sun and temperature change will do to the conditions of the snow/ice. enjoy the learning experience.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Kahtoola KTS Crampons on 10/28/2011 08:11:44 MDT Print View

Kahtoola KTS crampons are designed for trail running shoes.
they come in :
Aluminum - lighter weight but slightly shorter spikes and not as durable
Steel - a little heavier, longer spikes, more durable

I own a pair of the steel ones and they work great on my regular trail runners.
I've done 40* snow in them. not sure I would want to do 40* ice in them though.

Kahtoola KTS Crampons


Richard Fischel
Re: Kahtoola KTS Crampons on 10/28/2011 08:36:34 MDT Print View

the kahtoola's look nice. probably work well with trail runners for french technique. not sure if they'd be much help in you needed to kick steps.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Yaktrax on 10/28/2011 08:50:24 MDT Print View

Yaktrax aren't so good if there are rocks around too. They cut into the rubber pieces underneath your feet, which then break, which cause total failure.

Most of the slippery places I go also have some rocks from time to time.

Kahtoola have just metal underneath your feet so would be better.

J Her
(sailfast3r) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Cross country running spikes on 10/31/2011 09:55:20 MDT Print View

What about cross country running spikes for your particular application?
They will not replace proper training, technique and knowledge in the steeps, but they may provide you the traction you are looking for in slippery conditions.

whitenoise .
(whitenoise) - F
Grivel AirTech Light on 10/31/2011 13:17:32 MDT Print View

Pick up some Grivel AirTech Lights and call it a day. Aluminum, full-featured crampon with front points that fits running shoes and mountaineering boots. Weighs 17 oz. for a pair. A large pair of Kahtoola Microspikes weighs 15 oz. without anything close to the traction of real crampons.

EDIT: And, to top that off, the Grivel AirTech Lights are also lighter than the Kahtoola KTS Crampons, with points that are nearly an inch long. I've used the AirTechs crossing glaciers and front-pointing on snice with trail runners, though I wouldn't recommend it because you just don't have the rigidity. But you can if you need to. Plus, if you want to do any mountaineering, you have a pair of light crampons for snow travel. Note that the aluminum will wear much faster than steel anything.

Edited by whitenoise on 10/31/2011 13:25:45 MDT.

Kai Larson
(KaiPL) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Grivel AirTech Light on 10/31/2011 19:04:55 MDT Print View

I have the Grivel AirTech Light aluminum crampons.

I also have the Stubai Ultralight Universal aluminum crampons.

I prefer the binding and the points on the Stubai. Both are good lightweight crampons.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea.. on 12/09/2011 16:37:40 MST Print View

Crampons made for boots may put too much pressure on your forefoot or toes.

Look at the mounting. I have some Black Diamond Contact Strap Crampons. They're not much heavier than the KTS Steel and probably have better grip. I really like them on moderate terrain with light boots. One time I tried them out with trail runners and overshoes (NEOS). Too much pressure on my toes due to the way they strap on. This is where the Katoola KTS is better with more straps to spread the load out. I wouldn't use regular crampons on shoes with a soft forefoot for this reason.

Ted E
(Mtn_nut) - MLife

Locale: Morrison, CO
crampons vs. microspikes on 12/16/2011 12:23:38 MST Print View

On softer snow, microspike will be able to do anything that crampons will do, you make just have to kick your steps into the snow a little more. i took microspikes and used them with INOV-8s to climb Gannett peak a year and a half ago. they worked great, with a mountaineering axe.

on icier snow, where you really need traction, you will want real crampons, which the Katoola KTS's will be the lightest full steel crampon you can find. the steel ones are much beefier than the aluminum ones, with longer, sharper points. i have a set and i love them.

Personally, i would worry about my feet getting cold in lightweight flexible running shoes if i was doing any extended amount of climbing on snow. i know my feet were a bit cold, and i was climbing in the sun all day in july on gannett. Your shoes will get wet from the snow. wear some vapor barrier socks on the outside of your regular socks, and you might not have to deal with getting cold, wet feet.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
microspikes on 12/16/2011 12:38:24 MST Print View

with microspikes and other such in snow ... be careful of balling .. there are no anti-bots

also make sure you know the french technique in case you do find yrself at an icier section ...

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea... on 12/16/2011 12:41:48 MST Print View

I too am a low-cut shoe guy. I picked up a few pairs of a Go-lite model. Low-cut, with a flexible gaiter that can be slipped in and out of slots on each side of the shoe and clips to a fasten front and rear. Pretty dang lightweight combination.

I pair that with old 4-points in-step crampons I have lying around. It sounds like you're talking some major mileage though, so how about Hillsound Cypress 6 Crampons:

I like your logic to try to keep weight off your feet. I've always heard and find it runs pretty true: A pound off your feet is worth seven pounds off your back.

Two very important points:

If you're on high-angle snow or ice, you need an ice axe and you need to have practiced with it until it is second nature. Maybe self-arrest grips on your poles would suffice depending on your routes.

Self-arrest poles, one example:

(Also good for getting to the front of the ski lift line!)

And take an avalanche class. One that includes a field trip after the classroom work. REI offers them, I'm sure others do as well.

And something I've often experienced: Going up a slope, I'm nervous about falling and sliding to my death below. So my ice axe is at the ready and I'm a little tense. Then, when descending, I find I can't even get a good butt slide down that same slope and I move over to a steeper slope to get a better ride (controlled easily with the ice axe). Moral: I didn't need to be so nervous on that slope on the way up. At least not about the sliding. Spring avalanches, though? Something to be very aware of.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Minimal shoes and crampons? An idea... on 12/16/2011 13:31:01 MST Print View

Well, when I say minimal shoes, I don't mean trail runners. I mean like vivobarefoot trails.