Rigid step-in crampons used for vertical ice climbing

Crampons are traction devices used to improve mobility on snow and ice.[1] There are three main attachment systems for footwear: step-in, hybrid, and strap bindings. The first two require boots with welts, the last adapt to any type.

Oscar Eckenstein designed the first 10-point crampon in 1908, dramatically reducing the need for step cutting. This design was then made commercially available by the Italian Henry Grivel.



Yellow/grey plastic "anti-balling" plates prevent snow from building up
Walking crampons


Crampons are made of hardened steel, light weight aluminum, or a combination of the two. Lighter weight crampons are popular for alpine ski touring where demands are generally lower and light weight a premium.


Early 10-point crampons lacked forward angled spikes and thus required step cutting on steep terrain. In the 1930s two additional forward-slanting points were added, making them exceptional for mountaineering and glacier travel and beginning a revolution in front pointing. Today, specialized crampons with as many as 14 points, and models with single monopoints for ice climbing, are made.


Improved attachment systems - such as a cam action "step-in" system similar to a ski binding and particularly well adapted to plastic technical mountaineering boots - have widely increased crampons use.


To prevent snow from balling up under crampons, especially in temperatures around freezing, most models can be fitted with plastic or rubber "anti-balling" sytems to reduce build-up. Rubber models use flexion to repel snow while plastic employ a hydrophobic surface to prevent adhesion.


Crampons are graded C1, C2 and C3 relative to their flexibility and general compatibility with different styles of boots. A C1 is compatible with a B1 boot (a sturdy hillwalking boot), a C1 and a C2 with a B2 (a stiffer mountaineering boot), and all types of crampons with a B3 (a fully rigid climbing and mountaineering boot).[2]

Ski crampons

Specialized "ski crampons" are employed in ski mountaineering on hard snow and ice. Far more common in the Alps than in the US, these ski crampons are known by their European names: Harscheisen (German), couteaux (French) and coltelli (Italian)[citation needed], literally French and Italian for "knives" in those tongues.

See also


  1. ^ Cox, Steven M. and Kris Fulsaas, ed., ed (2003-09). Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills (7 ed.). Seattle: The Mountaineers. ISBN 0898868289. 
  2. ^ "The Hike Boot Grading System and the Crampon Grading System". H2G2. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • crampons — cram·pon· || kræmpÉ™n n. iron tool for lifting heavy objects; iron spike attached to shoes or on climbing boot to prevent slipping on ice or snow …   English contemporary dictionary

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