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Gear Guy

How to Sharpen Crampons

Get a mill bastard (not again!) file, available at hardware stores and your pappy’s tool shed. Clamp your crampons in a vice if you have one.

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Should (can) you sharpen crampons instead of buying new ones?

Do you throw away your car when the tires get bald? No! Sharp crampons are as essential to safety as a sharp mind. Keep both honed as ginsu knives and equally at the ready.


Assuming your crampons are in good shape and not relics you filched off poor Toni Kurz’s corpse, yes, sharpen them. Get a mill bastard (not again!) file, available at hardware stores and your pappy’s tool shed. Clamp your crampons in a vice if you have one. If not, just hold on. Wear gloves so you don’t shred your hands, or just go ahead and pre-injure your fingers by drawing a strand of barbed wire across them.

Hone each point, stroking in such a way as to re-establish your crampon’s original angles. File until the points are sharp as piranha teeth. Only file the side-points along their two thin sides. Front-points, however, should be beveled into edges that resemble razors. Usually, you only sharpen horizontal front-points from the top, and give vertical front-points equal licks from each side, but this can vary depending on the design. I have, in a rush, sharpened crampons using an electric bench grinder, but you have to be careful doing this. Go slowly so the metal doesn’t get too hot, and use light touches on the wheel rather than bearing down. Inspect the grind often. True liquid swordsmen get the crampons sharp by removing a small amount of metal. Again, wear gloves or just pre-injure your hands by shoving them into a whirling food processor. Next!