Note: Many of these articles are very old, and although the technical information is still relevant the equipment mentioned may not be (for example a Stormy cooker was state of that art in 1995, but not in 2020).
Sizes: 36 to 46 (M bar supplied) and 41 to 50 (L bar optional extra). Weight: 950 g. Price (uk as of 17/10/06): £105
The Petz-Charlet Sarken Spirlock differs from most other crampons due to its unusual attachment system – which aims to provide a lighter more streamlined crampon when compared with existing models. Like many hybrid crampons it features a plastic front toe bail - which is very chunky and robust (no fears of it breaking mid pitch), with the main difference being the crampons rear attachment point. Instead of a heal clip the crampon has what looks almost like a conventional steel front bail attached to the back of the crampon, but with a strap attached on either side of it. My first impression was that Petzl-Charlet where simply trying to reinvent the wheel! The crampon itself is fairly conventional and minimalist, but with a good point layout, making it suitable for both mixed and ice climbing, as well as mountaineering. The most noticeable feature is the crampons hybrid points which are a cross between a vertical and horizontal point, making them good on both ice and snow.
PUTTING THEM ON
To don the crampons you first hook the rear bail onto the back of the boot – the reverse of a traditional binding. Once the wire bail is located on the lip of the boots heal, you step down into the toe of the crampon and attach the straps (always make sure the straps are locked down tight and double backed). This process is quick and easy from the start once the crampons are set up right, and are no faster or slower then a step in system. The advantages are:-
There is no pressure on the back of the boot – an important point if boot is soft, as a heal clip with put pressure on your achilles.
There is no bulk at the heal, meaning you can heal hook more easily, or jam your feet heal to toe more effectively.
The crampons are lighter and more compact.
Disadvantages? Well you don’t get that reassuring ‘clip’ you get with a heal clip, but apart from that they seem totally solid.
The length adjustments are made via a sprung clip that inserts into the central bar. The bar features very fine adjustment (staggered holes), and the job can be done quickly without the need for tools. If you have very large boots then you may need to buy extra long bars.
Since getting the crampons I’ve used them on every conceivable type of terrain, from grade 5 ice falls, Scottish VII mixed, and lots of snow slogging, and I’ve yet to find them wanting. I was worried about the wear on the crampon points, as heavy wear would necessitate replacing the whole crampon rather then just the points (as with a modular system), but the wear has been minimal (Charlet- Moser crampons always tended to last very well). I especially like the front point design, as it had no flex when mixed climbing, which is a common problem with conventional horizontal crampon points, and they also worked well on water ice.
A very lightweight and modern crampon suitable for any climbing – they also look great in photos!
Andrew Kirkpatrick is a British mountaineer, author, motivational speaker and monologist. He is best known as a big wall climber, having scaled Yosemite's El Capitan 30+ times, including five solo ascents, and two one day ascents, as well as climbing in Patagonia, Africa, Alaska, Antarctica and the Alps.Follow @ Instagram