Oct 27, 2011 at 2:07 am #1281176
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.Oct 27, 2011 at 4:11 am #1795493
@derekoakLocale: North of England
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.Oct 27, 2011 at 5:16 am #1795498
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.Oct 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm #1795680
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.Oct 27, 2011 at 4:33 pm #1795724
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"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.Oct 27, 2011 at 7:36 pm #1795785
can come off or rotate on your shoe … be aware of thatOct 27, 2011 at 7:43 pm #1795786
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
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.
–B.G.–Oct 27, 2011 at 8:35 pm #1795816
drowning in spamMember
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.Oct 28, 2011 at 6:47 am #1795896
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.Oct 28, 2011 at 7:11 am #1795904
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.
….Oct 28, 2011 at 7:36 am #1795912
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.Oct 28, 2011 at 7:50 am #1795916
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
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.Oct 31, 2011 at 8:55 am #1797017
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.Oct 31, 2011 at 12:17 pm #1797100
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.Oct 31, 2011 at 6:04 pm #1797219
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.Dec 9, 2011 at 3:37 pm #1810552
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.Dec 16, 2011 at 11:23 am #1812901
@mtn_nutLocale: Morrison, CO
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.Dec 16, 2011 at 11:38 am #1812907
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 …Dec 16, 2011 at 11:41 am #1812910
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
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.Dec 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm #1812935
Well, when I say minimal shoes, I don't mean trail runners. I mean like vivobarefoot trails.Dec 20, 2011 at 10:51 am #1814300
That's a whole different ball game. Frankly you may be SOL.
While you can do anything you want, some activities may not be prudent to pursue given a certain level of experience. Fact is there are no crampon products designed for shoes that soft. The issue isn't the toe-heel flex (plenty of products work with that like KTS's and such). The problem is the side to side flex such soft soles have.
Even trail runners have soles stiff enough that you can strap crampons on tightly enough that they won't come off. To get the same secure fit though with any minimalist shoes (including mukluks) will cause the sole to buckle. Even then the shoe will probably work it's way out of the crampon and be more of a pain than it is worth.
While Light is Right works, there are diminishing returns. Remember we're genetically designed for savannah running, not icy mountains. If we were, we'd all be climbing Everest naked. You're going to have to beef up your footwear for icy snow…the good news is not very much. Many of the 300ish weight Inov-8s should work well.Dec 20, 2011 at 11:41 am #1814320
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Justin: Wow!, you're talking some lightweight shoes. As an aside, how so you find them on summer trails (roots, rocks, etc)? I'll hike in anything for 20 miles, but over 25-30 miles in day and I found, long ago, that I (personally) needed a little stiffness in the sole or my feet felt beat up by the roots, rocks, etc. Hence I stepped up to Nike Lava Domes when they first came out and left the running shoes behind. Happily. But if those Vivobarefoot Neo Trails work on the trail, 9.2 oz would be fabulous! (per shoe or per pair?)
Dustin: If those Vivobarefoot Trails are as light as they look in the photo, I concur that it may be an uphill battle to make them work on snowfields. But I had an idea:
This isn't high-angle mountaineering, right? No front-pointing. Just something that provides some grip. Maybe a little floatation*?
*4 of us did a snow camping trip. All the same weight, similar pack weights. The two of us in size 11 shoes almost never plunged through. Both guys in 9 shoes plunged through frequently. Very easy going for us, very hard going for them because of slightly too little floatation for the conditions that day.
So here's the idea: 12" x 5" plywood under each foot. With wide straps to secure the light shoes onto the plywood. Maybe a heel and toe cup cut from a tin can. Some combo of lugs (made from plywood bits and gorilla-glued in place) and/or 3/16" bolts with their bottom ends sharpened into spikes. It would double the floatation of a size 9 shoe. <$10 of parts. So, after the snowy passes, you just throw them away, hand them to someone else, or burn them and pack out the bolts.
I'd see two design approaches:
Quick, dirty and cheap: 3/4" plywood, router out the space between the lugs, use velcro straps designed to secure garden hose and extension cord bundles.
Light and fully featured (maybe you mail them to and from yourself for the snow sections): 1/8" door skins on a foam core. Lugs and spikes on the perimeter of the bottom. Multitask the bolts by using threaded rod such that they project below to be spikes but project above to be heel and toe cups. And (I think this is a potentially cool idea): also make some foam-core wedges for side stepping on hills. 25 degrees or so would take so much of the ankle work out of traversing a hillside.Dec 20, 2011 at 12:28 pm #1814335
Honestly, weight is not my worry with going with minimal shoes. I just hate wearing stiff soles or anything with arch support. It makes my legs hurt. My whole life I have hiked hard in just regular vans shoes. I usually ripped out the insole. Once they are worn a little, they have about 4mm soles. Very floppy and definitley feel like I am walking barefoot. I have also done lots of hiking in just water shoes. Also, I walk barefoot around town.
Anyways, I smashed the hell out of my ankles and legs, and I kinda adapted to a certain way of hiking. I have been in situations where I was "required" to hike in boots and it wasn't fun. Kinda like how big boot wearing backpackings complain about their feet and legs killing them if they hike with tennis shoes, I am the opposite.
With the vivobarefoots I plan on leaving the insoles in which add a lot more thickness and support. The shoes might be a little too barefoot for me, but it's just something I need to see for myself. As for rocks and roots, I have encountered some ouchies along the way, however I have never done anything over 15 miles in a day so I couldn't say for sure on that.
I guess I am SOL with the crampons. That was the point of my original post, I wondered about inserting as stiff plate for the times I needed to use them. I am starting to think that wouldn't work though.Dec 20, 2011 at 12:45 pm #1814343
@davecLocale: Crown of the Continent
I used Camp Magix 10s with LaSportiva Crossleathers this past winter/spring. Great crampons, but I wouldn't want any less beef in the shoe for snow and ice use.Dec 20, 2011 at 12:52 pm #1814346
I've used CAMP XLC 490s paired with New Balance MT101s. I wouldn't want to go past 45/50 degrees with this combo (brutal on the ankles), but it has worked fine for general snow travel so far.
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