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mtn.climber
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PostWed Jan 24, 2018 12:22 am 
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I own Black Diamond Contact strap-on crampons.  The heel of my Vasque hiking boots doesn't fit securely into the heel, which has caused me some problems.
I've owned both for more than a year, so return is out of the question.  Is there anything I can do to help, or do I just need to bite the bullet and buy a new pair of hiking boots that will fit the crampon?

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Bronco
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PostWed Jan 24, 2018 10:01 am 
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Is the boot heel too narrow for the crampon?  A photo would be helpful.  I had this same issue with some mountaineering boots. I ended up selling the BD crampons and buying some Grivel air techs.

If the boot fits well and you like them, I'd lean toward taking the boots in to a shop and trying different crampons instead of trying to find a new boot.  Jim at Pro-Mountain in the U district would probably help.
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RandyHiker
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PostWed Jan 24, 2018 12:09 pm 
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A few things:

1) Length adjustment is critical.  The crampon should fit tight enough that it requires some force to fit the boot into the crampon and that the crampon will stay on the boot when lifted off the ground without attaching the straps.

2) Boot sole rigidity is also important.  Crampons are usually intended for use with "full shank" boots with a completely rigid sole.

3) Most "hiking boots" are "half shank" boots with a flexible forefoot.  "Half shank" boots are far more comfortable and efficient for trail walking, but less suitable for kicking steps in snow or cramponing directly up a steep snow slope.

If your boots are more "hiking boots" than "climbing boots" and your intended usage is "hiking snow covered and icy trails"  rather than "mountain climbing"  you might consider "micro spikes" instead of "crampons"

If your intended use is climbing straight up icy mountain sides , I would consider boots with a completely rigid sole and using an ice axe (and practicing ice axe arrest skills in a place with a safe run out)
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DIYSteve
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PostWed Jan 24, 2018 12:29 pm 
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I concur with Randy's points, although I'll quibble about this: Very few modern boots have actual half-shanks or 3/4-shanks or any shanks of any kind. Those terms are holdovers from the pre-modern boot era. Instead of shanks, modern boots get rigidity -- both torsional and longitudinal -- from midsole material. Old tech shanks were 1"-2" wide. Contrast modern stiff midsoles which cover the entire length and width of the boot.

I acknowledge that some boot manufacturers still market boots has "half-shank," "full shank" or "3/4 shank," but rarely do the boots actually have shanks. That's a good thing. Compared to modern construction, shanks were an inferior way to stiffen a boot. Old tech 1/2 shank and 3/4 shank boots sucked because they eventually developed a kink at the forward margin of the shank. Contrast modern boots which, with the right midsole material and design, can have the longitudinal stiffness of a 1980 out-of-the-box 3/4-shank boot but don't develop a kink and retain their original blend of rigidity (longitudinal and torsional) and round flex at the ball of foot.

One great thing about modern boot technology is that, unlike shanked boots, it's now easy to design and manufacture a very worthy general mountaineering or off-trail hiking boot that is stiff underfoot with a bit of round flex at the toe, that is torsionally stiff and that retains the original stiffness for the life of the boot. That combination describes my favorite mountain boots. They work great with hinged crampons for everything but extended frontpointing. Some of my favorite type of boot are marketed as "backpacking boots," which is a misnomer because they work much better for general alpine travel than c. 1980 heavy 3/4-metal shank mountaineering boots.
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RandyHiker
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PostWed Jan 24, 2018 2:02 pm 
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DIY Steve is technically correct that modern boots no longer use a steel shank to stiffen boot soles.

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DIYSteve
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PostWed Jan 24, 2018 2:31 pm 
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mtn.climber wrote:
my Vasque hiking boots

what model boot?
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mtn.climber
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PostWed Jan 24, 2018 2:34 pm 
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The crampons are too narrow in the heel for the Vasque boots to fit into.  Either that, or the outsole part of the boots are too wide.  Even when I extend the crampons length to maximum, I can't force the boots to sit flat in the heel area.

I'll probably take both crampons and boots into an REI store, and have it checked out.

I have microspikes, which I use fairly often.  But there are still a couple of glacier climbs left in my peak-bagging career (hopefully).

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mtn.climber
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PostWed Jan 24, 2018 2:37 pm 
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The boots are Vasque St. Elias, and they are wide width.  I normally don't wear wide widths, but the  regular Vasque boots were too narrow.

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DIYSteve
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PostWed Jan 24, 2018 2:44 pm 
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mtn.climber wrote:
Vasque St. Elias

AFAICT that's a trail boot, not designed for use with crampons. I see people putting crampons on trail boots, but I wouldn't do it.

With a name like mtn.climber I figured you'd have a stiffer boot. Have you considered that?
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mtn.climber
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PostWed Jan 24, 2018 3:54 pm 
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Yes.  I used to have stiffer boots.  Switched to those about a year ago, as I found myself doing more moderate climbs.  Guess I need to get a different boot for more serious climbing.

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mtn.climber
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PostWed Jan 24, 2018 3:55 pm 
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Any boots you'd recommend I look at?  My most serious climbs are probably behind me, but I still plan on some glacier trips with vertical gain.

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Schenk
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PostWed Jan 24, 2018 4:02 pm 
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Damn, what size dogs are at the end of your ankles? Size 14?
If you can't adjust them long enough to get the heel to lie flat with the Std Center bar, then you may need the BD Long Center Bars.
https://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en_US/climbing%2Fcrampons/long-flex-center-bar-BD400673POLSALL1.html
It is OK to bend the center bar just a little to follow the curve of your boot sole too.

And heed what Randy and DIY Steve have said. The Contact crampon came with 2 styles of bindings: you should only be using a full strap on style binding with the St Elias.

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Stefan
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PostWed Jan 24, 2018 4:04 pm 
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Even though you are using hiking boots...what are your intended applications for using the crampons?

The reason I ask is because maybe you are only doing "not-so-serious" stuff with the crampons, and then you might be fine with the adjustment problem.

Heck, I have used crampons with my running shoes many times--knowing the terrain I was using this combination of shoe/crampon and understanding the limitations and risks.

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mtn.climber
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PostWed Jan 24, 2018 4:16 pm 
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Future objectives include Sloan, Ruth (North Cascades), Olympus, and possibly some out of state climbs (Gannett).  I've already climbed the WA volcanoes.  I think my days of dreaming of a future climb of Denali are past me.  I suppose I could still try Aconcagua.

Online reviews of the Scarpa Charmoz are decent.  Maybe I'll try those out for size.

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DIYSteve
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PostWed Jan 24, 2018 4:31 pm 
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mtn.climber wrote:
Any boots you'd recommend I look at?

That opens up a can of worms because good fit is a threshold and people have firm opinions. For example, I hate GoreTex boots because every damn one of them failed after a half season or less. I'm much more comfortable and stay much drier in full leather uppers treated with Obenauf's LP.

If you're looking for a comfortable off-trail/general mountaineering boot and have a medium wide (D)/medium volume foot, consider the Scarpa Active SL: non-GTX, full leather upper, torsionally stiff, a bit of round flex at ball of foot but otherwise sufficiently stiff for general mountaineering. It has a bit wider toe box than Scarpa Charmoz and a wee bit softer at ball of foot, but torsionally as stiff. Active SL is marketed as a "backpacking boot," but it's a very capable general mountaineering boot. (UK rating would be B1+ or B2.) No ledge on the toe so you'd need full strap crampons. It's my favorite general mountaineering boot of 15+ boot models I've had in 30+ years of mountaineering. My wife and a bud agree. If your foot is narrow, look at La Sportiva models. If you plan to do extended frontpointing, get a proper super stiff mountaineering UK B3 rated boot.

mtn.climber wrote:
Online reviews of the Scarpa Charmoz are decent.

Charmoz is a very good and popular general mountaineering boot if your foot is a Scarpa fit. I went through 2 pairs of Charmoz, did lots of routes in them. But I prefer the similar non-GTX Scarpa Active SL (see above), which has a bit wider foot box and full leather upper. Performance is very similar. Every route I did in Charmoz would have gone as well, although more comfortably, in Active SL.
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