Alpinists have always been fascinated by technology. Often, when the utmost in structural form has been achieved, the attention moves to the tool's material composition. Today the discussion focuses on what is the best steel for crampons ,which some people think of stainless steel. This isn't a new idea, many manufacturers have tried using it over the years, and Grivel has also carried out trials and tests on their crampons using stainless steel, but with little success.
The current interest has encouraged us to reconsider the possibility and so, we made inquiries in University research institutes, especially at the University of Padua, where research is carried out on materials supplied by the Italian Alpine Club (CAI) and MA. We got in contact with Professor Emilio Ramous who is an expert on material technology, member of the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining (UK), and member of the Metallurgical Society of AIME (USA), last but not least he is a keen alpinist.
Practically all high strength steels have a similar density (specific weight): the difference can vary by about 1%. So it isn't true that stainless steels are lighter than others.
The ability to"maintain an edge" depends on the hardness of a particular steel,
but this attribute must be weighed up alongside the toughness of the steel and therefore it’s
resistance to fractures. With a similar toughness chromolly steel is harder and therefore
maintains a sharper edge.
In all high strength steels, including both chromolly and stainless steels,
toughness (fracture resistance) diminishes as the temperatures falls. So both steels behave
in the same way.
During the manufacture and use of a crampon, stainless steel is subject to a
greater risk of cracking. Stainless steels were created and put in use to solve corrosion
problems and not material strength issues.
The build up of snow underneath the crampons depends on the efficiency of the anti-balling system. With the dynamic anti-balling system, the alpinist's weight puts a downward pressure on the device with every step taken and springs it back when the foot is raised therefore it effectively.
Grivel was the first company in the world to supply all their crampons with an anti-balling device, convinced that it was an indispensable safety factor. With the new dynamic system, invented and patented by Grivel, the alpinist's weight puts a downward pressure on the device with every step taken and it springs back when the foot is raised. As the alpinist walks, the snow that has built up between the points is simply ejected, with no extra effort and it works every time, in all situations. No other system works in any way as efficiently as Grivel’s.
If you want to know more about Chromolly Steel VS Stainless Steel, please download the full Emilio Ramous ITW, from where was maked this page you are reading for.