Gear Guy

What type of crampons do I need?

What's the best crampon for the LaSportiva K3 boot? Can I use semi-rigid crampons with them to climb vertical ice? I need crampons for that and glacier approaches but am afraid that if I get a fully rigid crampon I will get to much balling-up effect with the snow. Joe Roop Prescott, Arizona

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La Sportiva’s K3 ($295) is a pretty versatile boot, with all-leather construction and enough flex so it’s an OK hiker for such a big boot, and with insulation to keep it warm. You can use rigid or semi-rigid crampons on it, depending on the main purpose for the crampon. Semi-rigid are best for general glacier use and moderately steep ice. For very steep ice or straight ice climbing, rigid are best. I honestly can’t say that I’ve seen much difference between rigid and semi-rigid crampons when it comes to snow balling problems. The slight flex of semi-rigid crampons is supposed to help shake the snow loose, but when snow is sticky and soft it glues itself to anything.

OK, but which crampons? For semi-rigid models, I like Climb High’s G-12 ($140), a really great all-around crampon. Petzl’s Super 12 ($125) is another good semi-rigid model, as is Black Diamond’s Sabretooth ($138), which is an exceptionally tough crampon. In rigid crampons, take a look at Grivel’s Rambo ($160), a dual-point model with very beefy front teeth. Trango’s Harpoon ($140) can be purchased with dual points or a mono point-the latter better on routes with small point placements where dual points may lever out the main placement.

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