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Keep Crampons on the Feet

After having the heel come loose on my new Lynx crampons (and having to one-foot up the remainder of a 20' problem with no rope) and a friend telling me of plastic toe baskets breaking while front pointing up a big snow/ice slope (and having to figure something out way up in the mountains), I got to thinking.

 


 
  • I like the high aluminum lever on the BD Switchblades (right); bullet proof, low profile, and a high leverage point. It doesn't seem that plastic has any place on crampons, and yet many high-end  crampons do.
  • My BD Contacts (left) have plastic front and rear. I got these for my daughter when she was 5, and they fit quite a range (2-11). How durable? Can't say, since they have only been used by a miniature person, and lightly at that. Never in sub-zero conditions. Maybe I should carry a strap for field repairs.
  • The Lynx has a VERY low strap securing the ankle (second from left). It provides effectively NO restraint for the heel lever. Was this a factor in the release I had? Minor, at most. I think I did not have them tight enough and vigorous kicking loosened them. I may also have had my gaiters on the ledge, but I don't know. I readjusted them that night, after better understanding how I wanted them fitted to the boot and they have been great since.
  • With the addition of a few rings (second from right) I was able to put a second wrap on the ankle and to secure the lever MUCH further up. It certainly feels more secure, and there is no way the lever can be released by snagging. Several reviewers commented on this lever design flaw, but none suggested a revision or work-around. Interestingly, I can even swap the BD heel lever on to the Lynx if I don't like this.



Just in case you haven't seen these side-by-side











 



And while we're at it, note the difference in front point angle. I find that with the lower angle it is easier to place them higher, and they are still very secure with more moderate heel drop angles. In fact, it is less critical to keep the heels down to prevent shearing. So just like axes with differing droop angles (Cobras vs. Quarks, for example), the correct placement angle varies. Gotta know what you are wearing.