by Brad

October 22, 2021

How to Sharpen Crampons

Nearly all mountaineering activities call for crampons and not blunt ones. It’s bizarre for a hiker to move on ice and rock structures without a crampon. Imagine crampons as blades. If they are used for a long time, they become blunt. 

Sharpening is the key to getting them functional again. It’s convenient to sharpen crampons at the start of the ice season, and since winter is knocking on the door, it’s about time you gave a look at your ice climbing gear.

Remember that a crampon will diligently bite through the ice only when sharp, and they are prone to wearing down when you climb on rocks and ice. In the guide below, we will look at how to sharpen crampons, how to clean them, prevent them from rusting, and how to file them without damaging their quality.

But First, What Do You Need when Sharpening Crampons? 

Sharpen Crampons

The only equipment you need is a file, a tiny vice, and a good set of gloves to get the job done. The exact file to use should be “a flat mill bastard hand file.” This specification can be found on your local hardware. 

It may seem like a curse phrase, but hang on: The flat mill alludes to the flat of the file, while the bastard term refers to its rough structure. Lastly, the file is used by one hand. As an alternative to using a vice to clamp the file, you can hold your file in one hand when filing, but it’s much harder than using a vice. 

Further, you are going to stick your hands in a stack of blades, and there is a risk of being cut, and you may also file your hand. Sounds dangerous, right? That’s the reason you need a good pair of gloves that won’t be cut easily by the blades. 

Steps to Take When Sharpening Crampons

Step 1: Harmonize all the equipment needed

Ensure you have the necessary files, gloves, and a vice.

Step 2: Wash the crampons to remove dirt

Crampons used for climbing take a beating. Because you go across a range of environments in them, they typically become fairly filthy, in part because they are dull. You’ll have to rinse and wash them before sharpening. 

Step 3: Clamp the crampon into the vice

Most of us prefer placing the crampons in a vice before sharpening. Should you intend to do this too, then make sure to position it in a manner that allows the vice-grip to warp the crampon. Most types allow you to separate the toe from the heel. 

This allows you to insert separate parts into the vice without damaging them. But, in this case, the model will have to be considered. The whole activity should involve you wearing leather gloves to avoid damaging your hands.

Sharpening Crampons

Step 4: File the edges down-pointedly

Ensure you file the edges going downwards to the point. Filing the wide surface of the crampon’s tip will compromise the strength of the teeth. Under no circumstance should you make the pints thin. Edges should be filed. Every point’s two sides should be filed. 

Remember, the file you are using is intended to be used when pressing forward, therefore exerting force on forwarding movements. Grinding the wide, flat portions of the crampon tips isn’t necessary. Concentrate just on the narrow margins.

Step 5: Cleaning the crampon and wiping it dry

After you’ve finished filing, clean it with water and wipe it. Also, ensure it doesn’t have any bristles or cracks in it.

While cleaning:

  • Wipe away the extra dirt with a wet cloth.
  • Next, inspect any screws on the crampons to ensure they are snug and secure. Consider changing the straps if they appear old or damaged.
  • Check the condition of the boot welts situated on the toe and heel. 
  • It is imperative that your crampons are completely dry when filing or when storing them. A crampon that’s dry works better for filing. And in storage, dry conditions also help in avoiding rust. 

A hand file with a diameter of 10” from Mill Bastard is ideal. In terms of the proper approach, ensure the file scratches are directed out from the pointed tip of your file. 

Also, you should push the file away from your body. Grinder wheels create heat and bring metal to a brittle state, changing the strength of the steel, thus avoiding it at all costs. 

When possible, get rid of bents by hammering or filing in their direction. Your hammer objective should be to get your crampons as sharp as a steak knife. An ultra-sharp blade may slash trousers, legs, and bags. Anyhow, the sharper the crampons, the better for technical/vertical terrain.

The crampon should be sharpened just at the pointy bottom and not the wider side. If you are a hiker, sharpening the parts in front of the ball of the foot is of the greatest importance. You should aim for a tip that is as sharp as a ballpoint pen. 

How to Clean, Store and Sharpen Crampons

Enthusiasts of ice and mixed climbing should focus on sharpening their front tips rather than the top and bottom, as these areas could thin the metal and break under stress when put under stress. 

After sharpening, examine the crampon carefully for chipping, burrs, and bent edges. Also, if the points are becoming thin, irregularly shaped, or substantially short, then you should replace them.

Inspect your crampon for loosened rivets, wiggling fasteners, and frayed straps and clips before heading out on an excursion; repair or adjust accordingly. Check the functionality of the heels and toes and if they fit tightly on your footwear. You should carry a repair kit with you for longer outings containing straps, baling wires, and buckles.

How to Store Crampons

You may be sharpening your crampon in preparation for future climbing or using it immediately. Sooner or later, you are going to store it. 

If you just sharpened your crampon, you will have to clean it and dry-wipe it. Doing so prevents rusting. You should also coat them with oil or any water-resistant coating.

Final Thoughts on How to Sharpen Crampons

When engaging any form of climbing that requires crampons, the crampon itself must be highly functional. Suffice to say, a dull and filthy crampon is a recipe for disaster. 

But with this guide, you are one step away from getting your crampons sharp and good-looking as new. Go through the above, get the necessary tools and follow each step mentioned keenly. For the entire set of crampons’ caring best practices, read our article about crampon care, our guide on how to choose crampons, and how to use crampons.

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About the author 

Brad

Brad is a professional climber in the discipline of traditional climbing. He often jokes that he can get a book to read during the long climbs. Of course, it always goes well with a good cup of coffee. Drinking coffee is his safer hobby.

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