Winter Skills Top Tip number 3

Posted on 5 February, 2019

crampon-usage-pied-a-plat.jpgCrampons come many different makes but have only 3 ratings.

  • C1 strap-on flexible crampons for use with flexible soled (B1) through to rigid (B3) winter boots. Suitable for winter hill-walking
  • C2 Hybrid crampons with a toe basket/cage and a plastic heel lever. For use with B2/B3 boots and suitable for technical winter scrambles and winter climbing.
  • C3 Rigid Crampons with a metal toe bar/bail arm and a plastic heel lever. for use with B3 Rigid boots and suitable for ice climbing & technical mountaineering.

In the photo, the instructor (left) is wearing C3 Crampons with C3 boots. The client is wearing C2 Crampons with B2 boots.

When should you wear crampons? It's pretty simple really - when snow becomes so hard it is difficult to make a good purchase on a surface with the sole of the boot; or when there is ice in quantity. Indeed, when one finds one's-self needing to cut steps then one should be asking - Do I need to get my crampons on?

  • DO - get your crampons on before you find yourself in a situation where you need to use them.
  • DO NOT - use crampons in soft snow or powder snow; or when temperatures are approaching 0 degrees C. Crampons are pointless in soft or powder snow and will "ball up" in temperatures around freezing - even if "anti-balling plates" are fitted.
  • DO NOT - wear rigid (C3 crampons) with B0 or B1 flexibly/bendy soled boots. You WILL break them!

It is perfectly safe to wear C1 crampons with B3 Boots - but remember C1 Crampons are "walking crampons" and are not for winter mountaineering or winter climbing - for these activities your crampons must have a set of front points for climbing steep snow/ice.


When using crampons, it is essential to keep "as many points in contact with the hard surface as possible".

The people in this photo are practising crampon usage as part of a Winter skills Course and demonstrating good crampon technique down an ice slope. Keep your knees bent and keep your weight over your crampons at all time.




american-crampon-technique.jpgWhen walking uphill, when the slope steepens to the point where you cannot bend your ankles upwards enough - use one foot sideways across the slope and point the other toe-in to the slope and use those front points as in this photo.

  • When walking in crampons do swing your leg well away from the other - front spikes can snag in trousers or gaiters leading to a trip hazard!

To learn proper crampon technique - get booked on to a Winter Skills Training Course with Lakes Outdoor Experience this winter season.

We still have plenty of availability to run you a course and you can view our dates and course venues here.

We look forward to working with you.

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