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Grand Canyon South Rim WInter Hiking; Recommended Traction Devices
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Bruce Tolley

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Grand Canyon South Rim WInter Hiking; Recommended Traction Devices on 09/09/2012 15:42:52 MDT Print View

I am taking the whole family plus some others to the Grand Canyon at the end of November for Thanksgiving. The NPS web site recommends "traction devices".

My wife and I already own "real" lightweight crampons and Kahtoola Microspikes. What I need to figure out is what to get or recommend for everyone else. Local Grand Canyon outfitters sell instep crampons, and several other Grand Canyon related web sites recommend 4 or 6 point instep crampons.

From my research it is apparently the more popular trails that get icy for the first mile or so from the rim from intermittent snow storms and foot traffic.

If the drought continues, this all might be a non issue but some Camp 4 point instep crampons are on sale. Should I get the other members Microspikes or instep crampons? I am leaning toward the Microspikes since they have worked fine for me in early and late season icy conditions on Sierra Nevada trails and they are easy to get on and off. But if you slip on some of the Grand Canyon trails, you have much further to fall.


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Grand Canyon in winter on 09/11/2012 08:17:05 MDT Print View

Microspikes are perfect. Those and trekking poles are all you'll need.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Grand Canyon South Rim WInter Hiking; Recommended Traction Devices on 09/11/2012 09:42:20 MDT Print View

Is this a dayhike? If so, are you thinking of stashing them once you are below the snow?

If you stash them somewhere, then weight and size matters very little. Four points, microspikes, those rubber frames with metal springs around the rubber - anything would work pretty well.

More so, send one person to scout it before leaving your car. Every winter (of 3) that I've done it, there's some ice / snow, but not so much and not so slick that I bothered with anything.

If you can scout it the day prior, take whatever you have and if it is really icey, then procure some on the South Rim.

>"But if you slip on some of the Grand Canyon trails, you have much further to fall."

Not Really. Not on the Bright Angel Trail. Yeah, you could slip and bang yourself on a rock, but you're not going to tumble down a cliff. The South Kaibab is more exposed and there are a few stretches with more exposure.

Jon Fong
(jonfong) - F

Cleats on 09/11/2012 12:08:53 MDT Print View

I have backpacked this route several times (Thanksgiving and Christmas). I have a set on instep cleats that I bought at the GC several years ago (~$10) that work fine. It is a bent up piece of steel with a Velcro strap.


The worst part of the trail will be at the very top at the snow will get packed done and can be almost as smooth as ice (lots of foot traffic). We saw a lot of people falling between the parking lot and the start of the trail. Further down the trail, the snow/ice can get covered by dirt so don't take your cleats off too early. Have a fun trip - Jon

Will Webster
YakTrax on 09/11/2012 13:32:03 MDT Print View

My wife and I did a couple nights in the GC at the end of November a couple years ago, going down Hermit and up Bright Angel. It snowed on the rim while we were down there (we had light rain - and rainbows) so the fInal mile of BA was fairly slippery from the foot traffic and a freeze-thaw cycle or two. We put on our YakTrax when we started sliding and didn't have any problems. It was kind of funny walking past the tourons as they desperately clung to the wall on their great canyon adventure.