This winter I have been using the new EDELRID Shark crampon. Trying out a new preproduction pair during the Scottish Winter has given me the unique opportunity to fully test them out in some varied terrain.
Edelrid describe these as an 'all round' technical crampon for steep ice, winter mountaineering and expedition use. The key features being: optimal flexibility being supplied with soft, semi and automatic bindings; high-grade steel with robust powder coating; extremely lightweight 3D form; 3D front points for optimal penetration on steep ice and good purchase on snow; quick and easy bridge adjustment (also fits larger boot sizes); and anti-bot plates included.
For more details check out the Edelrid Shark here.
What's it like out of the box?
The Edelrid Shark arrived early on in the Scottish Winter season, kindly delivered to a friends house close to the Cairngorms. Obviously, this is an ideal testing ground for any crampon, so with much enthusiasm I picked up the box only to be surprised at it's relative (light) weight. Opening the box I was even more surprised to find three different attachment systems: soft (pictured), semi and fully automatic bindings. I don't think any manufacturer has closen to supply crampons in this way before and I was instantly impressed. Frequently I use different crampons for different mountaineering boots, ski boots or slightly different activities. More importantly ignoring the instructions initially (don't we always) I found it relatively straight forward changing between strapping systems.
Adjusting the crampons length wise was straight forward also, with the slight curve in the bar aiding the fit on many modern boots. This was easily achieved with the rental clip on the heel section. This is a definate weak point in some other manufacturers designs and I have seen frequent cases of crampons unclipping. In this case the rental clip is reassuringly stiff and does what it should i.e. keeping the length fixed as adjusted.
What's the Edelrid Shark like in use?
Firstly, I tried the Edelrid Shark while doing some standard mountaineering work from hill walking to routes of grade II/III. For this I chose to use the semi automatic binding system which held well giving a comfortable fit. The black plastic toe piece looked odd at first but didn't impact on it's use, although I am not so sure about the added bulk at the toe on harder mixed routes (I prefer a bail for this very reason). The points gave a very stable performance in neve particularly on steep descents due to their 3D form, and slightly splayed heel points.
Of course it hasn't all been hard ice and neve, the crampon also performing as well as any other in wetter snow with minimal clogging and a good anti ball plate (anti-bot).
Next up was some climbing work from grade III-V in Scotland. For this I switched to the standard automatic front bail and changed to some slightly stiffer boots. Again easy to adjust the shark performed well. The sharp front points seemed to penetrate ice well while the aggressive secondary points gave good stability. On rock it took me a little bit of time to get to used to the 3D shape of the front points, and I would have found a flatter point to be more stable on small edges. For harder ice and mixed though the Edelrid Beast might be better suited with it's vertically aligned front points.
It's quite a good crampon to climb with on steeper ground with a nicely shaped automatic heel clip which doesn't snag on the rope. The adjustment wheel is also recessed preventing any chance of loosening during a longer route - although it's always worth keeping tabs on that.
Finally, I have often heard people moan about buckles being difficult to undo on crampons straps. Well a strap that is easy to undo doesn't reall strike me as a good attribute for an essential piece of kit that is supposed to stay on the sole of your boot! But for those who feel this is essential you will like the new buckle arrangement on the Edelrid Shark - it is safe, solid and you can undo it - happy climbing..!
- Three different attachment systems make this a versatile crampon.
- Good secondary points which result in a good climb on scottish ice.
- Excellent buckle arrangement.
- LOTS of people say they love the Edelrid signature lime green.
- 3D front points won't be to everybody's liking - but remember the Edelrid Beast might be a good option.