Is that a crampon in your pocket, or you’re just glad to see me? Bulky ski crampons = storage dilemma. Kind of like those tire chains you hardly ever use… but there’s way more storage in your Subaru than your rucksack.
Enter the Skeat, a ski crampon that indeed fits in your pocket. Clearly, these little guys won’t do what a “blade” crampon does on a softer skin track, but it’s obvious they’ll act as ice cleats. I could have used these about a thousand times in Europe over the past decade, and on occasion in the “powder” mountains of Colorado. Apparently inventor Patrick Gasparro came up with the idea during icy approaches in the Tetons. He and friends have been using various versions for a few years, now going mainstream.
If you’ve ever strapped a chunk of rope (or moose antler you picked up in Garnet Canyon) to your skis as a traction device, you know the concept is valid. You probably also know the issue of such devices tending to slide forward and backwards on your ski; quite disconcerting. I found a way to mount a Skeat with a Dynafit binding that nicely stabilizes it, beyond that you’d want to really grinch the straps down while locating at the narrowest part of your sidecut or perhaps just behind your binding toe. Using with skins instead of slippery Ptex probably helps as well. We’ll test this coming winter, but I see no reason why Skeats wouldn’t work for their obvious purpose. That being icy conditions while climbing on skis.
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.
We can make the same thing with strap and screw.
Yes, when I first invented the skin cleats that is just what I did! I took a ski strap and put screws through it. Just be sure to put some old skin fabric to pad the screw head so it doesn’t rip the skin on your ski. Really though, it too quite some time and energy and was not quite as stable laterally.
Good luck with whatever you decide to do:)
cool! do they work with a voile strap instead of the included strap? Seems like a good way to reduce some weight and maybe a way to get them tighter around the ski?
Easy to carry size in pocket looks nice. Have you tested with Vipec, Ion and Kingpin too?
Hi Louis, They should work with a voile strap. The only problem is that the excess tends to get in the way. Originally, when I hand made the first few, I used a voille strap. As far as weight, the strap it Biothane strap comes with is lighter than a voile strap, and can also be used as a ski strap to keep your skis together when they go on your pack. You should be able to cinch it down tight enough and place it in the right spot on the ski so the strap doesn’t slide back and forth. Also the biothane strap is a bit sticky, so it tends to stay in place on the skin. The ultimate solution to keeping them in place is to cut a section out of your skin, the same width as the strap, in just the spot where you want the Skeat to go. Then it won’t ever move, and you don’t really give up much glide or grip when you aren’t using the Skeats anyway.
Hope this helps.
Re: above. But just cut a thin bit out of the skin obviously. Not all the way through:)
I am a telemarker. So I can say that they work great with all different tele bindings. Most of my friends, actually nearly all the younger folks these days, either rondo or split-board. And the Skeats work equally well in all those situations. Just depends where you have to place the Skeat underneath.
Brilliant! I mostly tele too and don’t want to install crampon mounts on all my skis so this is a great solution.
Question – do the plastic ones grip as well as the steel at first and the big difference being durability, or do you experience much better bite with the steel ones?
How wide are they? Meaning how wide are the skis they are pictured with? I imagine it would be difficult to mount a 115mm Skeat on 100mm skis.
The Skeats are currently made width a base plate of 100mm. So they work on any ski or split-board that is wider than 100mm at the waist. They work on any board up to about 135mm. So from 100mm-135mm you are good. Next year I plan to make some 85mm for the skinny ski lovers. And maybe even some skinnier for x-country skiers.
Nice! So the plastic work just fine on hard snow and ice…maybe not on blue ice though. But the plastic polymer will wear down faster and will break if you step hard onto solid rock.
The steel ones grip even on hard blue ice and won’t break on rock. They are just slightly heavier, but hardly noticeably unless you are a back country racer or something.
Basically, the plastic polymer is good for all but the most serious mountaineers. And for most situations the plastic work just fine.
The Skeats system allows you to interchange the plates. All the components can be disassembled in about 3 minutes and then reassembled in case single part breaks or if in case you want to switch from the plastic to the stainless steel base plate:)
Thanks! Your price is so good, there is no way I can justify not picking up a plastic pair, and a set of steel plates 🙂
@Patrick – The skinny ski lovers don’t want to sacrifice glide 🙂
I bet if you turn the thing 90 degrees and make a holes for two straps on the long sides, you could use them on something super skinny AND wider… Won’t have to do any more machining other than instead of many holes, drilling 4 longish slots. Same weight savings but a little more utility since they will be multi-use… Just a thought. I could use that on my daughter’s 70mm wide touring skis.
I think a pair that would fit 84-90 mm waists would be great; my mountaineering skis (Vertex-X) that I bought for spring and summer hard snow & glacier skiing are 84 mm, my cho oyus 89 mm. and zero G85 and host of Dynafit mountaineering skis (where crampons are most likely to be used) are in that range.
Hot dang! And I just shelled out for a pair of Dynafit crampons two weeks ago*sigh*.Question: would these be a good fit for skis in the 88-90 width range, or a tad too big/wide. Thanks Patrick, Lou
Thanks for answering all these questions Patrick, this is great! One thought I had: Is there a reason you didn’t make the teeth angled, so they perhaps would glide a bit better? Also an aluminium version would be really sweet…or maybe titanium 🙂
Seems great when youre having your skis flat on the ice.
But how would they work on steeper climbs when youre on your edges? Crampons have that blade right on the edge.
If the 100mm plate is good for 100mm-135mm wide skis, are the skis shown in the top picture too narrow for the Skeats? Is there a problem if the Skeats stick out past the ski edge a bit?
So you basically trade off glide for a few grams? Why?
I’ll try to answer the previous few questions:
1. Glide: a. We really only put on the skeats when the slope is steep enough that you don’t glide anyway. At this point you are really just stepping.
b.But I have thought about teeth already, maybe for next year. I just received my patent a short while ago and I have lots of thoughts for improvements all the time.
c. Also, re glide. So we put the skeats on and take them off without removing our skis. You just lay the skeat flat on the snow and step onto it, buckle and tighten. And then just snap them off. When the slope becomes gentle enough to glide you remove them.
2. Materials: Aluminum is light weight, but very expensive to cast and less durable I understand. I think titanium would be great and I am looking into that, but I’m not sure how much more it would make them cost.
3. Width of ski needs to be at least 100mm. If the Skeat sticks out off the ski it is a problem.
4. It is not a trade-off with glide, because we only use the Skeats in situations where you’re only glide would be a backward slip.
5. Edging on steep traverse. So, the “Skeating” technique is slightly different than “Skinning” technique in super steep situations. You try to keep skis flatter to the snow/ice and keep your tips pointed as much up the fall line as possible. And instead of going across the hill to make switch backs you go as straight up as possible and then when it is too steep keeping your skis pointed up the fall line just step up and to the side slightly to cross the slope. It works, even if this description is confusing.
6. Maybe for next year I will have a pair of Skeats that are 85mm wide for the skinnier skis.
I hope this helps. Please ask more questions or prompt me for more detail. I’ll do the best I can.
1C makes sense. Thanks FOR explaining that. Also a narrower option (6) would make a lot of sense.
Dan, your point about a narrower plate is dead on., and maybe more urgent than I had thought. Most of us in the Tetons are on skis at least 100mm wide because we get so much good powder…but I guess I have to consider the Sierra’s and other places where people use more skinny skis.
I’m gonna see about making an 85mm in time for this winter. Do you think 85mm is thin enough or should I go even thinner? Do you think cross country skiers would use?
Andrei had an interesting idea about rotating the plate 90 degrees and then putting two more holes for passing the strap through? Anyone have any thoughts on that?
Just a general comment about technique: if the terrain is approaching the limit of your ability to comfortably climb with the tools you’re using, it’s time to switch to tools more appropriate to climbing the next level of steepness, in my opinion. In other words, if you’re pushing your ski crampons to the point where you are struggling to avoid losing grip and falling, you should have switched to boot crampons sooner. Likewise with putting the ski crampons on before the skins stop working.
Patrick, congrats, this is great.
I imagine you’ll eventually need to handle skis in the 90s as well. Lots of folks on them.
You’ll have to beta test the 90 degree rotation idea. It’s a good one, but time will tell. Simple is better. Definitely want to make the straps replaceable with Voile straps. Even if yours are better (stronger, stickier) you’ll want to allow for field repairs/replacement. Voile straps are ubiquitous in the BC.
Keep going. Great stuff.
The Skeats™ really are compatible with the Voile™ ski strap or any other ski strap right now. The only problem is that there is usually left over strap that flaps around. Not that big a deal though, and certainly works well enough in a jam. 🙂
I appreciate your thought process. However certain situations do call for the Skeats™:
In the Tetons we have found many situations where there is a thick crust of snow that is supportable with your skis on, but that you would punch through with skis off. Sometimes sinking in up to your knees or deeper! At these times the snow is often slick and icy so that you begin to slip back with skins on even on terrain that is not very steep. So you would definitely not want to boot pack it and Skeats™ make it so much more efficient and pleasurable.
And sometimes you have to go up a lot of this south facing crap to get to the good powder on the north facing slopes!!
Hope you try them out for yourself:)
We get a similar snowpack in Colorado, when you can go on hard crust with skis and crampons, but you take your skis off, try to boot, and sink up to knees or deeper. Happens quite often during later winter and spring. Lou
Utah is the same. Totally stoked to try these things out this season.
I had another quick question. Is there a reason why you guys put the spikes all in a row? I would think they’d grip better if they were staggered a bit. Could help with the strap slots in the other direction as well.
Understood about breakable crust, and I’m not trying to suggest that Skeats/ski crampons are not useful tools. I’m just saying that it is a fairly common mistake on a slope of increasing steepness to climb past the point where it’s comfortable to stop and switch to skins with ski crampons or boot crampons, and that this practice is needlessly inconvenient and can even be dangerous. I can’t recall encountering such a situation in breakable crust (which can probably be found anywhere in the world where you find snow at some time).
(except maybe the south pole, etc.)
See, I am guilty of this. I keep the skins on even though I know it’s getting too steep and I’m passing by safe or convenient transition zones. My partners. who always stop lower but transition faster, come chugging by as I struggle to keep loose gear on the hill.
Yeah, wtofd, I’m speaking from experience on this one.
Good point about the alignment of the spikes Andrei! The only reason they are inline is because when I first made them on a skinnier Voile strap I just put screws into the holes that are lined up. Now width a wider plate I have had a few people suggest altering the alignment and shape of the spikes and we are already starting to play with the design. Thanks to everyone for bringing so much to this process. Awesome!!
Yes See. I think that most of us chargers like to push things to far. Skinning where it is a bit sketchy is not unusual in the Tetons..haha
Need to be available in a range of widths (like harscheisen). 65/80/90/100 mm.
So if you make one size that’s about 65mm by 100mm with staggered spikes and slots for the strap in both directions, you could use the same one for narrow and wide skis. Now there’s a crowd sourcing design strategy for ya… LOL Wouldn’t even have to change the shape of the spikes. It would keep the thing multidirectional and therefore minimize installation headaches and manufacturing multiple sizes…
really nice idea. Put them in a little pack with a blob of skin wax and an aborbant piece of towel – and the whole thing is a great christmas gift.
You can use them to climb if its icy
You can use the hard edge to clean skins when they glom – the way we all do with a credit card usually
oh – and it needs to be in black, or Lou will not use it.
dont even get me started on adjustable width skeats.
I’m definitely interested in 85mm and/or narrower versions (~65mm) if/when they exist. (We don’t get deep powder here in Oz.) Great idea!
This looks like an interesting design for milder gradients. I used to like the SKALP crampon but don’t think its made anymore – certainly not for wider skis.
I’ve never understood whilst the major binding companies don’t make their crampons stack (one inside the other) – if one crampons is a few mm wider than the other it makes absolutely no difference in use but is way easier to pack or strap on to your backpack.
This is pretty awesome Patrick,
it seems to solve some of the issues I have with my crampons:
except for Ion ski crampons which can be put on and taken off with the boot in place quite easily, I often find it a hassle to a- find my crampons in my bag, b- actually take off my ski to fit them on.
how do they compare to actual crampons, and, do you still find yourself carrying proper crampons for certain situations, if so, for which ones?
thanks a ton!
and again, congrats (you’ll be getting an email order from me shortly)
Beginner mistake. Bought Volkl vta 88 lite ski and dynafit speed radical binding. Found out cannot mount voile crampons. Bought Dynafit bindings which are worthless for climbing. Any suggestions?
My first suggestion would be to help me understand, why are you feeling Dynafit bindings are worthless for climbing? Lou
Lou,The binding has unrestricted heel and rotation about toe.When climbing and the heel lifts are raised the boot heel leaves the ski surface. In that position body, wt is borne only by the heel lift and never on the crampon. The unweighted crampon just slides on top of the snow and is never pressed into the snow.
My compliments, I bought VT88 and Dynafit XLT boots based on your reviews.
Can’t you put spacers on top of crampons so they work correctly? That’s the method behind the madness, anyway. The idea is the crampons are set up with spacers so they get optimal penetration at one of the heel lift positions, usually the medium.
As for the crampon not penetrating when the boot is lifted high, that is of course by design, and is indeed different than crampons such as Voile that are fixed to ski.
So, another approach is to get the crampon locks that Bill Bollinger sells at B&D Ski Gear, banner link to right.
That said, you might give Dynafit crampons another chance, used with spacers. In our experience they do work once you get used to them. They are far from worthless.
Even with medium lift, my crampon does not penetrate to firm snow beneath layer of powder. Anyway, Figured out a fix this weekend. Take a swedged cable that is the width of the ski. Cable has a button on one end and a loop on the other. It will thread though the crampon front toots, under the skinned ski and out the other side of the crampon. It is held in place by a small carabiner. Tried it with 4 mm kevlar cable and it works great and takes 15 seconds/sli to rig. If interested in photo, could send.Thanks again for your answer. Will
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