When do I know that I need to sharpen my crampons? In documentaries, I have seen people filing their crampons.

  • 2
    Possible duplicate of How to take care of steel crampons?
    – user2169
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 14:15
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    @BenCrowell On second thought, I retracted my close vote since the other question seems more about the how, not about the when. (And the answers go in the same general direction.)
    – anderas
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 14:48
  • 1
    This question should focus on one point, either "When to sharpen" or "How to sharpen". Probably the first one, as the second is well covered in the linked question.
    – imsodin
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 14:57
  • Oh, my bad, I should have taken a look at the question before posting. I've edited (removed) the part about "How to..", so lets just stick to "When" part of it. Thanks guys!
    – WedaPashi
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 5:28
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    I don't claim this is "the" right answer, but I sharpen mine at the end of every season, and for me I think that's plenty. It may depend on what kind of climbing you do and how much. If you climb in mixed conditions and spend a lot of time walking or climbing on rock in your crampons, they'll get dull faster. If for any reason you have to jump down onto a rock surface while wearing crampons, that is very damaging to them, and may even break a tooth.
    – user2169
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 17:41

2 Answers 2


I usually sharp my crampons when I am expecting icy conditions, that means glare ice. Especially when you go steep and need front point technique, you need to rely on those points - all your bodys weight. If your front spikes are too coarse, you need much more energy to bring them secure and stable into the ice. Besides that, the ice will splinter and break which is possibly dangerous (especially on thin ice).

This is in general the same for your other ice climbing gear, namely ice axes and ice screws.

If you are just "glacier hiking" and maybe (indeed this is very likely on most alpine tours) also having rock contact with your crampons, I won't sharp them at all. The more frequently you sharp the gear, the faster you need to replace the front points/spikes.

And yes, filing is the common way to sharp your gear, there are instructions online, like e.g. here or with video here

  • 1
    As long as you don't over sharpen, I disagree with the point about not sharpening because you are worried about wearing them out. I would rather buy new crampons than find myself unexpectedly on hard ice with blunt points. I would especially hate it if my headstone read "....If only he had sharpened his pointy bits...."
    – user5330
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 0:39
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    @mattnz Like I wrote I think it's mainly about front points. And it's only important to have sharp points in steep, icy terrain. You should know beforehand if you go steep, so you know when to sharpen your crampons.
    – Wills
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 5:42

According to Will Gadd, you should sharpen your crampons and ice tools after every use.

If you spend just a minute or two after each trip–sometimes you won't even need a minute, just give them a look over and a couple passes with the file to take off a couple burrs–then you're never going to have to worry about dull points. Regular maintenance also ensures that your gear wears evenly, if you wait too long between sharpening, then you're going to be dealing with really dull points and spend a lot of time trying to fix them back up.

It's better to give them a couple strokes with a file after each use when you're putting them away, rather than spend an hour trying to restore them. You'll spend less time sharpening in the long run.

  • Strongly agree - no self-respecting chef would ever let their knives go blunt - why would an ice-climber compromise the safety of their most important tools? A quick touch up is easy - restoring very blunt tools takes much more skill and patience. Commented May 31, 2016 at 17:50
  • @Tullochgorum this of course is true if you are a professional ice climber (I am cooking but I am not a chef too). But then you also have no issues to replace your gear very regularly. If you plan to go ice climbing (aka going steep with the need to use front points) then I second the opinion and I also file regularly then.
    – Wills
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 21:25

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