It’s well known to the ski crampon cognicenti that Fritschi OEM ski binding crampons are less than ideal, because they rise with the binding rail and may have little bite when you’re in the higher heel rise positions. To solve that problem you can easily rig aftermarket crampons such as B&D or Voile to work with the Fritschi Freeride, because the Freeride has plenty of stack height and thus enough space under the rail. (Note, if using B&D crampons with Freeride and mounting them under the forefoot, rig them as fixed rather than dynamic, otherwise you’ll risk bending the binding rail because it will end up cantilevered over the crampon pressure plate.)
Mounting aftermarket crampons for use with bindings such as the Fritschi Explore is a different story, as those binders are lower to the ski and thus provide less room to work with.
Blog contributor Dave’s wife Jessica needed ski crampons for her Fritschi Explores. In an attempt to avoid the problems with Fritschi crampons, the three of us did some creative mods and got a pair of B&D cramps working for her despite the lack of clearance. Our solution works better than the OEM crampons, but since the crampon still has to hinge up and down (dynamic mode) it does have limited bite while using maximum heel lift. I was hoping we could add the excellent B&D crampon locks and thus make Jessica’s crampons fixed, with maximum bit at any heel lift, but we couldn’t quite get to that point. Interesting project, check it out:
|Getting this figured out was fairly complicated, as a bunch of variables come into play. For example, you want the crampon to work with a useful amount of heel lift, but it’s necessary for the binding “foot” to rest on the crampon pressure plate, rather then having the binding rail resting on the crampon pressure plate. More, the pressure plate has to be positioned in a way that allows it to glide along the binding foot as the crampon hinges up and down. It would have been simpler to just make the crampon fixed to the ski using the nifty B&D crampon locks, but the only way to gain enough room for the crampon is to mount it as far back as possible, thus leaving no room for the locks.|
|Key to this project was modifying the crampon mounting block so it fits under the rail. We found that cutting a groove in the block was all it needed, if mounted back as far as possible.|
|Side view of the mounting block after installation, binding rail has a lip on the bottom that sits in the groove we made in the block. It would be nice if the block thickness was tapered slightly from front to back. A touch with the disk grinder would take care of that, but I was leery of weakening the block as it gets quite a bit of torque when the crampon is in use. Note how we mounted the block as far rearward as possible. This position will vary according to where the binding heel unit is located on the rail, after adjustment for boot length. Like I said, tricky variables.|
|Unlike crampons mounted under the ball of the foot, you can raise your foot so far with this configuration as to have the crampon flip forward and jam. Again, best solution to this would be using the cramps in fixed rather than dynamic mode, as they would then work with any heel lift height and be more reliable on steep terrain. Since that’s not possible, we figured out a simple solution using a loop of bungee cord that prevents the crampon from flipping forward.|
|On snow, before we added the bungee cord. Jess can use her heel lift in medium height position and still get plenty of crampon bite. We could add more height to the pressure plate if she preferred more heel rise. B&D gives plenty of options for pressure plate height.|
Caveat: I don’t recommend this configuration for larger/heavier skiers. If you’re in that class, just get Fritschi Freerides and mount your crampons to be used in fixed mode. We’ve recently done just that and found that in most applications the crampon mounts still need a tiny bit of grinding for clearance under the binding rail, this is easily accomplished with nothing more than a file.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.