“Sharp crampons are like sharp knives: They are safer and work best when sharp,” says Steve House, a climber and the author of Training for the New Alpinism. Trekking on ice, snow, and especially rock will eventually dull crampons and make them less effective— particularly early in the season, when ice and snow are light. Here’s how to keep them sharp.
Step 1: Clean and dry. Start by removing all of the dirt from your crampons and giving them a thorough wash and dry. To prevent rust, it’s good practice to always store your crampons dry.
Step 2: Gather tools. “Wear work gloves so you don’t file a knuckle instead of a point,” House says. You’ll want to use a hand file called a flat mill bastard file. “Mill” refers to the flat shape, and “bastard” refers to the midgrade roughness of the cutting teeth. When preparing to file, hold your crampons tightly or clamp them in a vice.
Step 3: File. “The objective when resharpening your own crampons is to re-create the shape of the point the manufacturer intended as best you can,” House says. File each point, imitating their original shape and pushing in the direction of the file’s teeth (versus back and forth). File the front points evenly on each side until they are as sharp as a ball-point pen. Sharpen bottom points by filing the thin side only. You can use an electric grinder but take caution, going slow so the contact remains light and the metal doesn’t overheat.