The question is not so much “if” ski crampons, but which crampons. Whenever possible I’ll drop my boot crampons in favor of my lighter ski crampons. Within ski crampons, basically, there are two types: those that fix directly to the ski and are static (for example, Voile Universal ski crampons), or those that pivot as the binding and boot make the next step up (for example, dynafit, Fritsche, and BD O1’s). Having toured with the same people on the same routes, but with various people being in front, it looks to me like it largely varies on the conditions of the day as to which is more efficient. Some days, on the more rolling terrain the pivoting-cramponed skier is ahead as it’s more efficient on all the terrain other than straight up. On other days, on steeper or double angle fall-lined sections, the most efficient stride came from being able to use the higher heel riser and still have full purchase of the crampon teeth at full length. For instance, I typically ski Black Diamond O1 Tele bindings, and all winter long I want my highest heel risers or nothing. Come spring, solely because of ski crampons, I make sure I have the low heel risers also so that on ups I don’t have to decide whether I want a more restful stride with the tall risers but lose most of my crampon points, or have my points to avoid annoying slippage but have to use more energy to step up. How would you slice it?
Chris Gerston owns Backcountry Essentials, an outdoor specialty shop located at 214 W. Holly in Bellingham, WA.