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Homepage Forums Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge™ Q&A Micro Spikes / Crampons

  • Micro Spikes / Crampons

    Posted by Julie on February 7, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    I’d like to know what you use for microspikes and/or crampons.
    If you’ve completed one of the peaks recently, what peak and what did you use for traction aides.
    I’m getting ready to purchased, but the more I read the less sure I am.

    I don’t plan on doing full snow hikes, but I don’t want to wait until all the snow/ice is gone either.
    Even with the mild winter, I won’t consider going without having the gear in my pack weather it is needed or not.

    TIA

    Eric Hall replied 4 years, 10 months ago 13 Members · 25 Replies
  • 25 Replies
  • Enlightenedhiker

    Member
    February 7, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    Hello Jules, I have only hiked Mt. Wilson about 3 weeks ago. It is the lowest elevation hike out of the six pack of peaks. Since we've had a dry winter so far there is No Snow up on Wilson and the only traction equipment I Suggest for that one is hiking poles, although I did summit without using mine but it would have made it much easier. Good luck

  • Julie

    Member
    February 7, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    Thanks for the input.

    I'm close to Idyllwild and hoping to head up over President's weekend.

  • Gregory Kimura

    Member
    February 7, 2018 at 5:01 pm

    I’ve been on Wilson, Cucamonga, and Baldy in the past 3 weeks. Hardly any snow (a little icy in a few spots on Cucamonga, but not worth crampons). I have the same question, though, about microspikes (which I’ve heard tend to rip the rubber), crampons, and snowshoes on the other 3 peaks, as I assume they have more snow. I don’t have a ton of CA climbing/hiking experience and would also appreciate some advice from folks who do. Thx!

    • Julie

      Member
      February 9, 2018 at 7:55 am

      Thanks for the update on trail conditions.

    • Julie

      Member
      February 9, 2018 at 8:12 am

      Thank you – I'm looking at Hillsound and Kahtoola

  • Haemama

    Member
    February 8, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    I would not do any of the peak trails when there is snow without a lot of practice with micrsopikes in a nice wide area without a drop off on one side! Most of the peak trails have narrow single track paths at some point which can be very scary with ice. Crampons require more training and I'd look into a class that teaches you how to walk/climb safely in them and use an ice ax for self arrest. People also get stuck because they figure out how to get up the the mountain and can't get down. There are plenty of stories of people falling off the one track trails up Baldy, Cucamonga and Baden Powell and even Icehouse Canyon, and lots of helicopter rescues as well this season already after only a brief snow season so far.

    This article is helpful – https://sectionhiker.com/winter-hiking-safety-tips/

    • Julie

      Member
      February 9, 2018 at 8:05 am

      My thoughts exactly Haemama.
      I am a very cautious hiker and have been reading and researching trails and snow hikes. I'm looking at hiking trails with worn paths through patches of snow and ice (you won't see cutting a path through snow or ice this year:). Idyllwild is my home area and I'm very familiar with quite a few trails up there and plan on exploring in hopes there is still a little ice/snow on flatter areas by the saddle that I can get comfortable on. I want to take baby steps, an be prepared if I run into snow and icy conditions on a trail.

    • Ken Knecht

      Member
      February 12, 2018 at 11:39 am

      Since I'm not an ice/snow hiker, I watched a couple video's on YouTube instructing how to use crampons. Very informative and did help me with my hike on Cucamonga a couple weeks ago when there were patches of ice across the trail.

  • Gregory Kimura

    Member
    February 8, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    Thank you for this response, Haemama. I appreciate the concern about safety. The article doesn’t speak to microspikes or crampons, although it does mention skis and snowshoes. Two weeks ago there were some snowshoe tracks from earlier at the top of Cucamonga Peak, but there wasn’t enough snow/ice to justify. I wonder about San Bernardino, San Jacinto, and San G, though.
    I’m not familiar with microspikes for hiking and have questions about their effectiveness in snow. I’d appreciate anyone’s thoughts. I used to have petzl crampons with snow shields, but I also wonder if that is overkill. Safest would be to bring crampons, ice axes, & snowshoes (although the latter makes for a heavier pack for a day trip).

  • Jeff

    Administrator
    February 8, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    I have microspikes, snowshoes, and crampons and have used all three at various times. Here's my $0.02 worth…

    Snowshoes are fun and easy to learn. The only tricky thing to remember is that you need to turn carefully and deliberately; you can't whip around like when you're hiking with regular shoes. I've found that snowshoes are most useful in deep snow (where there is not “tread” laid down by other hikers). So far, there was only one snow hike up Mount San Jacinto where snowshoes would've been useful. I left mine in the car that day, and instead “post-holed” up to my crotch more often than I can count. It was a slog.

    Microspikes are AWESOME for packed snow and ice where there is already some tread laid down. Joan and I used microspikes on a hike up Icehouse Canyon to the saddle a couple years ago, and they gave great traction and confidence. The trick here is to not get overconfident… which leads to crampons.

    If you are using crampons, that means you are ALSO using an ice axe and helmet, because you are now doing something called winter mountaineering. When does a snow hike turn into winter mountaineering? My REI Winter Mountaineering Skills instructor said it best: “If you slip, could you slide to your death?” Think about that when you're traversing a steep, snow-covered slope. Of course, having the gear also means knowing how to properly use it, including traversing, ascending, descending, and self-arrest. All of these require appropriate training.

    I did a snow hike up San Gorgonio with @greg a couple years ago and we used microspikes up until High Creek, then crampons and ice axe up to the ridgeline, then reverted back to microspikes for the remaining hike to the summit. Having the appropriate gear and training also made it safe for us to to glissade down to High Creek on our way back. Nobody should be glissading without a helmet, ice axe and proper training, period.

    One item I didn't note here, but always bring on these hikes anyway are trekking poles. Pop on the snow baskets if the snow is deep enough to warrant them, but definitely bring poles and use them.

    If at any time you find yourself feeling you might be getting in over your head, trust your gut turn around. The mountain will always be there to climb another day.

    • Julie

      Member
      February 9, 2018 at 8:10 am

      That you Jeff for the breakdown and difference between each.

      I've order my microspikes and looking forward to practicing with them on packed snow and ice where there is already some tread laid down. At this time, anything more that this is something I'm not comfortable with. Next year, as my experience grows with winter hiking I hope to try snowshoeing and add crampons to my gear. Late in 2017 I saw some groups hikes and classes for winter hiking and I'll be looking to build with those too next year. Who knew this winter would be so short.

  • Haemama

    Member
    February 8, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    Oops sorry – meant to include this link too! and think Jeff covered it as well! I didn't comment on the other peaks because I haven't gotten that far in my research or planning :).

    Winter Traction and When to Wear It

  • Anush K.

    Member
    February 8, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    Hi there. We have done San Bernardino last Saturday and I have to tell you to ABSOLUTELY have some sort of footwear. The snow starts at about 3.5 miles and it gets worse. The powder/ice/slush made the hike difficult but absolutely worth it. We had Hillsound Traction Crampons on, which can be worn with any hiking shoes. Hiking poles are another must! We are planning to do San Jacinto in few weeks and the Hillsounds are coming with us for sure !

  • Anush K.

    Member
    February 8, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    I meant to say Hillsound Trail Crampon Traction Device, which is more like a microspike than a heavy duty crampon. It worked wonderfully but as Jeff mentioned above it can give a sense of security and confidence, which can be dangerouse. Just follow the path that other hikers laid and you’ll be fine !

  • Enlightenedhiker

    Member
    February 10, 2018 at 7:49 am

    Thanks for the info guys!!! I am learning sooo much from these posts by other more experienced hikers. And I agree with Jeff 100%, “don't be afraid to turn around.”
    I had “Summit Fever” My first rookie hike on Wilson, and ended up in the dark by myself on the decent.

  • Gregory Kimura

    Member
    February 11, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    Great info! Thanks Jeff, et al. I’ve ordered some Hillsound trail pro crampons and will probably pick up microspikes as well for the final 3 peaks (San B, San J, & San G). Will get snow baskets for my poles, too. Looks like thenpeaks will all be getting some new snow in the next week. Will have to take some of my warmer/gtx Alaska gesr along.
    Speaking of winter equipment, I’ve noticed that I seem to bring more stuff (clothing, food, water, emergency supplies, heavier boots, etc.) than others Imsee on trails around SoCal. Even talking with folks at REI, there seems to be a culture of minimalist/fast hiking here. Maybe after completing the six pack and get more comfortable with less. Or maybe I’m just wired to be a packrat, which I tell myself is wise but which I also second guess halfway through a hike/climb when fatigued.
    In any case, I’m interested in how experienced hikers here pack for day hikes and if minimalism is the norm….

  • Ken Knecht

    Member
    February 12, 2018 at 11:36 am

    I used micro spikes on the Cucamonga Peak hike last weekend. There were spots of ice the full width across the trail, and always on the really steep slopes. Funny how that works out. I did come across a Park Ranger and volunteer at Ice House Saddle and he said that micro spikes are not near as good, or safe, as cramp-ons. Since I really don't do a lot of snow/ice hiking I didn't realize there was a difference. Maybe people here with more knowledge and make the distinction.

  • Gerhard Tratter

    Member
    February 13, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    Here is a visual perspective between Spikes and Crampons

  • Tyler Glowacz

    Member
    February 14, 2018 at 11:21 am

    Now that the differences between crampons and micro-spikes have mainly been addressed, I would like to expand on the question for everyone if that's ok?

    What micro-spikes do you recommend, or not recommend? I'm looking to purchase some for my wife and I. User experience from here would be highly appreciated! Thank you!

  • Jeff

    Administrator
    February 14, 2018 at 11:29 am

    [quote quote=4670]Now that the differences between crampons and micro-spikes have mainly been addressed, I would like to expand on the question for everyone if that's ok?

    What micro-spikes do you recommend, or not recommend? I'm looking to purchase some for my wife and I. User experience from here would be highly appreciated! Thank you![/quote]Tyler, as for microspikes, I'm a big fan of the Kahtoola microspikes. Both my wife and I have them and swear by them.

    • Eric Hall

      Member
      March 14, 2018 at 11:34 pm

      Another vote for Kahtoola microspikes. They give great traction and are very sturdy. I hiked Tahquitz Peak near Idyllwild a couple of weeks ago as a training hike and they worked awesome.

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