Winter Skills – How To Use Crampons

One of the more difficult things for winter walking is getting used to walking in crampons again. Unless you’re lucky enough to get up to Scotland over the winter, then walking with crampons further south is something you may only wear for a few hours on a day trip and only rarely all day. So getting the hours in can be difficult. Even when the snow is all the way to the route start, it is often soft and deep and snow shoes would be of more use.

Just remember to walk with your legs wide apart – a bit like John Wayne and ensure you don’t spike yourself! This takes some getting used to, and you’ll find the going slower which is no bad thing. Taking care is the best way to keep safe on the winter hills.

Guaranteed you’ll catch your spikes on your trouser bottom a few times in the process, that’s why you need either proper winter trews with crampon patches or gaiters to both protect the fabric, your leg and to stop you snagging and tripping in the process.

The video below shows this a lot better that can be explained in text alone, but note that at one point he should be using the ice axe in his uphill hand. Even better would be to get someone to show you how to do so properly, and a winter skills course is something even hardened, self taught winter hill goers will benefit from even if it is only to confirm that you’re doing it right rather than wheedling out any bad habits picked up over the years.

Dave Roberts

Dave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader.
Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.

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