FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Postby stevep » Sat Jun 09, 2007 11:39 am

At what point do I need to wear crampons?
I have not climbed any significant snow in the past and need to know if I should use crampons to climb Castle next weekend.
I am sure I will figure it out when I start slipping, but what criteria should I use to decide wheteher to take them along on the trip?
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Postby Matt » Sat Jun 09, 2007 11:48 am

Take the crampons, no matter what. You could put them on any time you don't feel it's safe to continue without them.
Conditions can change between the ascent and descent.
Getting stuck up there would suck.
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Postby Chris P. » Sat Jun 09, 2007 12:26 pm

I prefer using crampons any time there is continuous (or mostly continuous) snow. It just makes snow travel a lot easier.
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Postby thebeave7 » Sun Jun 10, 2007 4:37 pm

Crampons are most useful if the snow is hard to moderate(consistency). Often if the snow is mush or powder and I can kick good steps I will leave the crampons on the pack(picture to the left <-). This second part is based completely on your comfort on snow and the slope you happen to be climbing. Usually crampons are used on 20 degrees or steeper terrain that is heavily snow covered, though everyone has differing comfort levels. This time of year unless you are climbing a windswept ridge it would be smart to bring crampons when climbing above 13K(provided the below is true).
Now that those opinions are out there, here is a more important topic, you should not climb steep snow slopes unless you are versed in crampon and ice axe use, especially self arrest. Without the proper safety knowledge crampons/axes can be more dangerous than helpful.

PS Read USAKellers Trip Report about Castle, looks like crampons are pretty much required.
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Postby MtHurd » Sun Jun 10, 2007 7:13 pm

I would highly recommend crampons on Castle. If you do not know how to use an ice axe though, it's probably not a good idea. Is it mandatory to have them on Castle, probably not but I personally wouldn't do that peak without them this time of year.
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I would recommend them

Postby CincyBearcats » Sun Jun 10, 2007 8:42 pm

My wife and I hiked Castle and Conundrum on Saturday, 6/9 (as did numerous other 14er's members). We hiked the standard summer route (NW ridge) to the saddle between the two peaks. We reached the saddle at 6:30am. At that time in the morning, the snow on the headwall to the upper basin and the snow on the slope below the saddle was quite hard(pencil hardness, in avy terms). Although we're not very experienced with snow climbing (this was only our 3rd snow climb), I would not have wanted to do it without crampons. The snow was hard enough that we had to kick in the front points of our crampons when it got steep (>35-degrees). However, when we came back to the saddle after going to the top of Conundrum, there were people without crampons coming up our tracks (~8am). We chose this route because the runout is quite safe and the slope angle is not extreme, but I still feel that it would have been significantly more dangerous if we didn't have crampons. We ran into several people on Castle with much more experience than us (Bill Middlebrook, Jordan White, etc.), so I would definitely ask their opinion before you make your final decision. I don't think crampons are so heavy that I would want to risk not taking them.
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Postby mountaineer56 » Tue Jun 12, 2007 9:40 pm

Bring them. But must important, know how to use them. This may sound crazy but I would wear them around the yard. They can be different to walk in if you are not used to them. The last thing you want is to be 6hrs from the car and wish you had them. Like someone else said a ice ax is a must, I take mine with me regardless of month. Together the crampons and ax weigh about 4lbs, not a bad insurance policy.
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