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Sharpening Crampons

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Sharpening Crampons

Postby rruby » Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:03 pm

Hi,

This last weekend I was on the Whitney Main Trail. What should have been a rigorous hike up the many switchbacks turned into a good amount of snow travel across snow fields covering a number of them due to several straight days of blizzard and lightning storm conditions, including the day I went up (chased us back down from Trail Crest). Since some of the covered switchbacks were close together, ended up leaving my crampons on and walking across granite to the next covered section. There were a number of people with crampons helping those without them across some of the sketchier sections up there on Friday. By Sunday, when I went up, most had been forewarned to bring crampons and ice axe.

I don't think I spent enough time on exposed granite to seriously dull the points (BD Strap Crampons) since they are steel, but just the same, does anyone know how to sharpen them in the event that they do get worn? I'm somewhat new to using crampons (sure glad I took them on this trip).
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Postby The Chief » Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:06 pm

Easy... get a drink of your choice, turn on your favorite show on the tube and apply one of these to the points!
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Postby mconnell » Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:28 pm

While I agree with Chief about the best way, you can also sharpen them on a grinding wheel if you are careful. If you over heat the metal, they will be fragile. When I've used a wheel, I make sure to check the temp of the metal very often to make sure it never gets too hot to touch. I mostly prefer to hand sharpen them since I take off less metal that way.
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Postby The Chief » Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:34 pm

mconnell wrote:While I agree with Chief about the best way, you can also sharpen them on a grinding wheel if you are careful. If you over heat the metal, they will be fragile. When I've used a wheel, I make sure to check the temp of the metal very often to make sure it never gets too hot to touch. I mostly prefer to hand sharpen them since I take off less metal that way.


Grinding Wheel can compromise the steel if done incorrectly.

I sometimes will use my trusty Drimel with a light stone.

But the best and safest way for the laymen climber as RRuby is the good ole hand bastard file IMHO.
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Postby JHH60 » Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:58 pm

Somewhat related question - have the active ice climbers on the list found that it makes much difference how precisely you retain the original point geometry when you sharpen vertical front point crampons? I.e., you blunt them on a mixed route and when you sharpen them the leading edge is slightly rounded or the angle is slightly different than original, does it matter that much?
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Postby The Chief » Wed Jun 03, 2009 6:19 pm

I always maintain a "Sharp" aspect on my FP's regardless the route.
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Postby JHH60 » Wed Jun 03, 2009 6:28 pm

The Chief wrote:I always maintain a "Sharp" aspect on my FP's regardless the route.


Sure - but on some routes you (or at least I - I'll be the first to admit I'm still working on the art of precise foot placement on ice :) ) bang up the front points more than others, and have to file off a fair amount of metal to not only sharpen them, but to restore the original point angle and make sure the point leading edge isn't rounded. Do you worry about those things or just get them sharp?
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Postby The Chief » Wed Jun 03, 2009 6:34 pm

Keep em sharp all the time.

The mixed stuff I dwell in encounters bouts of vertical WI5-6 and you will not catch me in those situ's WITH DULL FP's!
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Postby mconnell » Wed Jun 03, 2009 6:43 pm

The Chief wrote:Keep em sharp all the time.

The mixed stuff I dwell in encounters bouts of vertical WI5-6 and you will not catch me in those situ's WITH DULL FP's!


But the question was about the shape of the FP's, not whether or not to keep them sharp.
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Postby The Chief » Wed Jun 03, 2009 6:50 pm

mconnell wrote:
The Chief wrote:Keep em sharp all the time.

The mixed stuff I dwell in encounters bouts of vertical WI5-6 and you will not catch me in those situ's WITH DULL FP's!


But the question was about the shape of the FP's, not whether or not to keep them sharp.


Mine are kept at a sharp pointy shape for pin point precision placements.

Hooking pockets of rock & ice are my placement of choice. Maintaining a sharp point allows me the ability to do so in the smallest of pockets.
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Postby rruby » Sat Jun 06, 2009 12:43 am

I just canceled my Comcast affiliation, so I don't have a favorite show to watch, but I do have a favorite drink Chief. I'll get a file and start sharpening. Thanks for the advice.
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Postby nhluhr » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:31 pm

Just sharpened a well-abused set of G10 straps that I got secondhand from a guiding company...

They were extremely dull so it took a lot of work, but I found that strapping the crampon around the bench portion of a picnic table gave me a solid platform to work on with my file and made it a lot easier.
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Postby crackers » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:30 pm

JHH60 wrote:...(Does) it makes much difference how precisely you retain the original point geometry when you sharpen vertical front point crampons?


Not really. I modify the heck out of the Y-axis geometry, putting little hooks and stuff into the bottom of the points, but for the X-axis geometry, I find that just getting them sharp to something like I remember them being is just fine.

For the OP, I'd recommend the following if possible:

1) a vise or similar to hold them down. It does make it easier...
2) a big mill bastard, a big lighter duty file and a small 6" file for finishing work.

If you haven't filed stuff before, remember that most files are unidirectional. Also remember to clean out your file. Personally, I try to do my filing away from areas with kids / dogs / cats and rugs. You step on a metal filing in bare feet and get it wormed into your foot, and you're gonna hate life.
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Postby Yeti » Wed Jun 17, 2009 4:21 am

mconnell wrote: I make sure to check the temp of the metal very often to make sure it never gets too hot to touch.
I keep the tip of my finger on the back of the metal tip as it's being ground... I take more chances with machinery than most. :) This keeps a constant watch on the temp, letting it spike for a fraction of a second can screw up the temper. Metallurgy is picky and permanent.

I've used the grinding wheel to rescue crampons and tools that were ridiculously far gone. To get a good point, though, you have to use hand tools. The finish work has to be by hand, I'm picky about all my sharp objects. :)

The Chief wrote:Grinding Wheel can compromise the steel if done incorrectly.

I sometimes will use my trusty Drimel with a light stone.

The Dremel has the same risks, especially with the fine stone. The finer your abrasive surface, the quicker it will build temp with friction.
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Postby mconnell » Wed Jun 17, 2009 5:02 pm

Yeti wrote:
mconnell wrote: I make sure to check the temp of the metal very often to make sure it never gets too hot to touch.
I keep the tip of my finger on the back of the metal tip as it's being ground...


I do the same, but wasn't going to suggest that someone else grind off their fingertips (like I have!)
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