Monday, February 14, 2011

B&D Ski Crampons on G3 Onxys

It seems like there is a new ski gizmo released for purchase every day. Though most are gimmicky and can be passed up , ski crampons are not one of them. When going up hill with skis we typically relay on skins. However if you are on an icy side hill, skins provide no grip. In some cases you can remove your skis and boot up sections with regular crampons attached to your ski boots. In some cases, such as breaking crust snow, booting will result in exhausting post holing.

With every new back country ski set up, I often have to come up with a new pair of ski crampons. Most crampons attach to the binding and thus new bindings mean new cramps. Ski crampons should also be matched to the ski in size. You would not want to run a 100mm wide cramp if your skis are only 80mm at the waist. And it is not possible to run a 80mm cramp with a 100mm wide ski. Thus if you step up significantly in ski size, then you will need new crampons.

When I got my G3 Onyx Bindings the Onyx crampon had yet to be released. Thus I had to look else where for my crampon needs. I knew that not all cramps attached to the binding; some attach directly to the ski. From some searching I found B&D Crampons . Looking at their website I did not see a set up intended for the G3 Onyx. So I contacted Bill Bolllinger at B&D ski gear for some help. Do not confuse B&D with Black Diamond, which is often referred to as BD. Bill sent me out some parts and soon I was out in the shop doing some crampon fitting.

The B&D crampons are affix in a manner similar to that of Dynafit crampons. A circular slot allows to cramp to slid on the ski and hinge. A mounting block is provided (circular slot) to affix to the ski deck with two screws, if your bindings are not dynafit. Because of this universal mounting block these crampon can work with almost any ski provided there is enough clearance or space between the toe and heel units of the binding. Now comes the tricky part. If the crampon is allowed to hing something needs to apply downward pressure to engage the crampon into the snow/ice. Typically it is the boot that provides the downward force, but not always. If the binding is a "platform" type the platform will make contact with the crampon instead of the boot. Because of these facts, each crampon/ binding type combination is custom. A Dynafit Vertical ST and a G3 Onyx, though both "tech" style bindings, will need different crampon configurations. After some fiddling I found the right combination of parts to make the B&D Crampons work with Onyx bindings and Garmont MegaRide boots. The basic Dynafit type crampon, attached to the ski with the small metal mount, and an F1/F3 style dual height riser. No additional spacers are needed.

My initial trail had me using the plastic block spacers. However when on the top climbing bar, the crampon would not engage the snow. Thus the taller post is required. Even with the taller F1/F3 spacer the crampon does not engage the snow to its full depth. I do not believe that the Onyx bindings are any taller than Dynafit. Due to the mounting tab set further back, the crampon contacts the boot at the arch or the highest location of the boot. This is similar to what happens when you run a F1/F3 style boot and B&D crampon set up.

An alternative to using a boot contacting spacer on the crampon is to use a crampon lock. The lock fixes the cramp onto the deck of your skis. This provides the maximum contact of the crampon with the snow/ice. Because the crampons is fixed on the ski, they are not allowed to hing. This results in you having to lift the ski with each step instead of gliding the ski along on the snow. If your bindings do not have a clear shot of the deck between the toe and heel pieces, you can mount the crampon in front of or behind the binding with the lock to hold it down. This allows a large degree of verisitlity with a difficult to set up crampon binding combo.

Ski crampons are a personally must for me. I tend to carry them on every back country ski outting I go on. I find that they provide the much needed grip in icy situations and even help me gain some purchase when it is steep and slushy. So the next time you are headed out into the backcountry, leave the American Express at home, but make sure to pack your ski crampons with you!

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