Crampons are a great climbing tool, allowing you to climb steep snow slopes and ice falls. They’re also dangerous since you have 24 sharp points on the bottoms of your boots. When you’re climbing with crampons on, follow these basic rules to stay safe.
Don’t Snag Crampons on Pants
Avoid snagging your crampons on your pants. Loose pants might be great for rock climbing, but avoid loose-fitting pants like snowboard or ski pants when wearing crampons. Buy a good pair of mountaineering pants with snug ankles. It’s best to wear gaiters where your pants meet your boots, which keeps the loose bottom of your pants from snagging on the crampon on your opposite foot as you walk across snow or climb steep slopes.
Walk and climb carefully to avoid gashing your leg with a crampon’s spikes. Always be aware of where you place your foot as you’re walking or climbing. Those sharp spikes can easily snag on vegetation, rock, or your pant’s cuff. Use a wider than normal gait to prevent pant snags and falls caused by tripping. When you’re climbing steep terrain, turn the toes of your boots slightly outward to avoid catching on obstacles. Also watch your partner when climbing steep snow. If he slips off he might land on you, impaling your leg with his crampons.
Don’t Step on Your Rope
Avoid Gear Hanging from Your Harness
Avoid having climbing gear, including slings and cams, hanging below your harness. Your crampon can become entangled in the slings as you bring your foot up leading to all kinds of unpleasant circumstances.
Don’t Glissade While Wearing Crampons
Don’t glissade (a controlled slide) down snow slopes while wearing crampons. If you go faster down then you intend, your natural reaction is to dig your heels into the snow. This can cause you to lose control of the glissade and cartwheel downhill or worse, a snagged crampon while glissading can cause a severe ankle sprain, break your lower leg bones, or suffer a boot-top fracture to your lower leg.