by Andy Dappen

For ski tourers using alpine-touring bindings (aka randonnee bindings)–which is now what most of the avid backcountry skiers in Central Washington are using– both Dynafit and Fritschi make ski crampons that are specifically designed to work with their bindings. The teeth of the crampons can pivot up out of the snow when you’re striding the ski forward and then are driven into the snow as you weight the ski. These dedicated crampons work well and your main concern is getting the model that’s wide enough to work with the waist width of your ski. Having crampons that are several millimeters too wide along each ski edge is much better than getting a crampon that just barely fits and is prone to gauging your sidewall if the crampon gets a tad off-center.

If you can’t find or don’t like the price of the dedicated crampons, there are crampons available from other parties to consider. One such option is the universal Ski Crampon made by Voile. Chester Marler just applied a pair of these to one of his sets of backcountry skis and here’s what he discovered:

I have a NAXO alpine-touring binding on one of my backcountry skis. Because NAXO has gone out of business, the binding-specific ski crampon was not available. While researching alternatives on the internet I came across the Voile Universal ski crampon.  By chance I gave Leavenworth Mountain Sports a call and they had them available! The tech, Matt, quickly mounted them after a little grinding to accommodate the peculiarities of the NAXO, and I was ready to go. When we approached Panorama Point (on the approach to Camp Muir on Mt Rainier) Friday a.m. I put them on and started climbing. I thought they might be a bit inconvenient because they do not retract as you lift your foot, as a traditional binding-mounted crampon would, but it was not an issue. And because they were ski-mounted I could use the most elevated heel position as I climbed, and still retained the full bite of the crampon. They were great, and all-in-all superior to my Fritschi-specific crampons on my other skis.  I believe I would prefer them on just about any binding setup, and they are simple to use. 

This post was originally published on 6/20/11. 

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