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Mike Lai

Design new gear for Ice climbing

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Hi, guys, I'm a student from Art center college of design. Currently, I have project about designing Ice climbing gear. I need to find some problems or needs for my design. If you feel there is a improvement for your gear (ice axe, crampons, harness, helmet, belay) or you have any new thought or idea about future ice climbing, please let's discuss. This project is about 5 years from now. Also, I need to interview people who has ice climbing experience. If anyone is willing to be my interviewee, please let me know. The interview will mostly via email. Thank you very much!

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design some frontpoints that don't get dull after being repeatedly kicked into bare rock. I could use eve less precision in my drytooling with those!

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There are a ton of ways you could improve on crampon design. Features that would be useful...

 

Universal fit (that doesn't require a bulky toe and heel welts in order to accommodate bails on step-in style crampon)

 

Minimize the time it takes to take off or put on for transitioning from rock to snow (more of an issue with aluminum) points. Step ins are relatively quick but strap on crampons take time, especially with gloves.

 

Maybe a crampon with a BOA system that's becoming popular on ski and snowboard boots? It would have to fit a wide variety of boots.

 

How about ratcheting toe-points that stay level even if you raise your heel? Would prevent shearing but also allow a climber to gain a few extra inches of reach using the calves....

 

Just ideas

 

 

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Gloves.

Ice climbing is hard on your hands. Gloves need to be dexterous, warm protective and sturdy. All that is hard to get out of one glove. In most conditions I wear thin neoprene, they're cheap, dexterous, fairly warm and protective but they're not very water proof or sturdy. You can't belay or rap with them, so I carry a pair of insulated leather glove, but you can't set screws too well with them on. We need one pair of gloves that does it all. Good luck working on that

 

Peter

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That reminds me, there really aren't many gloves that fit big handed people. BD's are tight for me, OR are better, but could be a little bigger. perhaps a new standard glove size. Call it.... XXL

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Thanks guys. I love your feedback. I have an interview file. If someone is willing to be my interviewee please pm me.

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The demographic is changing. There are fewer "full time" climbers that live in van's, eat out of the dumpster, and climb all day every day. (Thank goodness they are still out there.) But more and more climbers have families, jobs, and get out after work, and on the weekend.

That said, I've looked and looked for children's ice tools/crampons. I've thought about making a smaller ice tool for the under 10-year-old set. I have 4 kids who want to come climbing with me, but for lack of gear can't. They can't even lift one of my BD Reactor tools.

Is there a market? Maybe you'd sell them to cruise ships that market glacier hiking in Alaska. You'd sell them to resorts that have man made ice walls. (Ice Parks) And the only other demographic you'd sell them to is ice climbers kids. All total, you maybe could move 300-500 sets of tools.

Kevin

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a super lightweight hammer on a straight shaft with an "alaska pick" for a 3rd tool and pounding in pitons thats about 2' long.

 

glacier crampon that only has one horizontal front point and two downward points (no other points) for ultralight and super sktetchy approaching.

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Hi, guys, I decide to design crampons. Right now I have a idea that crampons with a magnet. The magnet will attach on the boots' sole. This idea provides easy step in with no mess. I found it is really difficult when wearing crampons on heavy thick snow. Also, with magnet, it will hold crampons and boot to increase safety. I saw a video on youtube. A guy pops off his crampons when climbing. Is there anyone has this experience?

Right now I'm making a prototype with magnet for testing climbing with bail on or off. Here is a link shows how magnet attaching: https://www.dropbox.com/s/voshzkqq1xmyjs2/magnet%20testing.m4v?m

The next prototype I have fixed it to become one piece instead of two.

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Cool idea.

what happens when the crampon falls off your foot because it's only "held on" with a magnet?

 

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Magnets, no matter if they be in the boot or the crampon will mean that there will be metal in the sole of the boot. The sole of the boot is made to minimize heat loss from your feet. Early explorers would pound nails through the soles of their boots, before we had crampons, to give them traction on the ice, but they very quickly got frostbite from heat loss through the nails. The soles of climbing boots are already thick and heavy enough, I think we can do without great lumps of ferris in them. And if the only thing holding the crampons to the boots are magnets, even Neodymium magnets, the crampon will quickly fall off.

 

Peter

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Right now, I'm thinking magnet will be just for assisting to locate position on sole, so it still has bail or some kind of locking.

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Please get an engineer involved. Magnets will never work to hold crampons on. The forces are too great and the weight would be too heavy. Crampons only fall off when they are not properly fit or properly attached in the first place.

 

I think you could work on the bail attachment. A different mechanical attachment method might have possibilities. Just look at the Dartwin Sidelocks for an example.

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why not forgo the complicated and heavy magnet system and just use a regular bail? Oh wait, that already exists...

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And if the only thing holding the crampons to the boots are magnets, even Neodymium magnets, the crampon will quickly fall off.

 

I don't know that they'll *quickly* fall off, but rather you'll need to use an electromagnet to keep the crampon in place, which requires a continuous power supply to work. The only other option is to use incredibly heavy permanent magnets (e.g. rare earth magnets) and I doubt a 6-7 pound boot is worth a lighter binding system. For an electromagnet, you get to deal with keeping said power supply light enough to actually be practical, and without having heat problems. There's a lot of room to improve crampon attachment, but for practical reasons, it needs to be of the GSB variety, rather than the magnetic variety.

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I still don't understand what's wrong with the current crampon attachment system, perhaps someone could enlighten me?

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Most design projects go south during conceptualization.

 

To prevent this common mistake, take a step back in your design process and ask yourself the following questions:

 

What's the problem I'm trying to solve? Is it a real problem or one I made up for my project?

 

Have a chosen the solution (magnets?) before identifying the problem I'm trying to solve? Hint: Don't do this.

 

What design work will I need to do to solve this problem?

 

Do I have access to the expertise necessary to solve this problem?

 

Have I done quick, back of the envelope feasibility analyses for each proposed solution to prevent a lot of wasted energy pursuing something that never had a chance of succeeding from day one? If you can't figure out how to do this for your proposed technology - its probably going to be a dead end for you.

 

 

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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Mike Lai, it sounds like you are not actually an ice climber. It is rather hard to re-design an item, or improve upon an existing design of, that you yourself don't have direct experience with, and a proper understanding of how it is used.

 

The current crampon attachment methods - all strap, strap + heel bail, all bail - work just fine. The problem is standardization and continuity of design across manufacturers.

 

You may wish to look into the GSb (Grivel Scarpa bail) system of a few years ago for one such idea that didn't take off.

 

As far as using magnets to 'locate' the crampon on the boot sole, this is a good idea in theory, however your magnets would have to be incredibly strong to resist both the backward forces from kicking in the front points as well as the lateral forces exerted on side-points when torquing into cracks, or even side-stepping.

 

You may have noticed that most crampon heel pieces have two small up-turned tabs to prevent the heel piece from sliding off the boot sole. Something similar for the front would be cool, but I am not sure how you'd implement it to work with all boot sizes and sole widths, shapes, etc.

 

If you want to improve crampons, I'd say look into improving the front bail / boot slot interface - either by having multiple bails to fit different sized and shaped soles, or a single, adaptable, universal bail. I am open to a new attachment system, but there are a LOT of climbers, not to mention boot and crampon manufacturers you'll need to convince that it's better.

 

If you want to design a whole new crampon, I'd like a crampon with modular front-points a la the Petzl Lynx; a front-point-section configuration similar to the Grivel Rambo 4 / BD Stinger (prominent secondary front points); the secondary points swept back, again like the Rambo / Stinger / Petzl Dart\win; tertiary points similar to the Stinger (swept back); interchangeable rear heel pieces (aluminum and steel); and, of course, a bail system similar to the Petzl Lynx that would be compatible both with bail-less 3-season alpine boots as well as fully-welted ice boots. Oh, and light weight as well. And an effective anti-bot (Grivel has the best ones).

 

And if you could figure out a good way to switch crampons from dual to mono configuration on the fly, without tools, that'd be cool too.

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Yes, a quick and easy way to change out from mono to duel point is a good idea.

I usually climb with mono's but some ice conditions are better with duel's. I've hiked for hours to get to a climb only to find I'd have been better off with duel's

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