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Grivel G20 Plus: A light monopoint crampon that shines above the rest
Posted on: February 27, 2020
When climbing steep ice and rock, I like the precision of a monopoint crampon. I often climb deep in the backcountry, where it is especially important not to risk a fall from a frontpoint skating off an edge of rock while scratching my way up mixed terrain high on a remote peak. I've been using Grivel's G20 Plus crampons all season, and have found them to stand out even though my gear closet holds five other monopoint crampon models from three of Grivel's competitors. The G20 Plus is an upgrade of the venerated G20, which lacked a replaceable front point. With this redesign, Grivel delivers a replaceable frontpoint but they have also created a crampon that is superior in stiffness, power, and precision to any others I have used.
Grivel utilizes a long piece of drop-forged steel for the frontpoint; this is essentially the backbone around which the crampon is designed. The asymmetric monorail places the frontpoint under the big toe and extends well under the foot, where it joins with the heel piece. The rest of the crampon forefoot bolts onto this center bar. In my estimation, this makes for a groundbreaking design, thanks to the sturdy bar of drop-forged steel underfoot—it transmits the force of your foot, and particularly your big toe, directly to the ice with no appreciable flex. Rock climbers can appreciate the natural feeling of power and security when your weight is transmitted directly to the rock through your big toe.
The author kicking ice with the Grivel G20 Plus crampons mounted to his Fischer Travers ski boots, Granite Lake, Cabinet Mountains, Montana. [Photo] Craig Pope
At 845 grams per pair, with a replaceable monopoint, the G20 Plus is one of the lightest technical crampons that has removeable frontpoints. They have become my go-to crampon for steep ice and mixed routes, but the ultralight design will also make it an attractive option for alpine routes. Sometimes a lightweight design can mean that the metal is softer and prone to dulling faster, but I think this crampon holds up Grivel's reputation for extremely durable steel.
If you want to forgo the weight of a crampon pouch, you can fold the G20 Plus in half to cover the spiky bits, and throw them in your pack, although you'll still have to exercise a little care not to pack it next to down jackets or sleeping bags. On a sidenote, for a zero-cost crampon pouch that weighs next to nothing, a little trick I learned from Conrad Anker is to reuse a USPS Tyvek shipping envelope (available at your local post office).
Scott Coldiron mixing it up with the Grivel G20 Plus crampons in the Cabinet Mountains. [Photo] Brian White
Length adjustments are easily done in the field by simply pulling up a bit of spring steel and sliding the crampon to the desired length. There are three macro-adjustments that can be made with a hex key (Allen wrench), allowing the G20 Plus to fit nearly any boot. A standard click-wheel on the heel piece will dial in the fit to your boot. I was able to get a great fit on three different climbing boots as well as my Fischer Travers ski boots. I even swapped out the toe bail and fit the crampon to an ultralight Scarpa Ribelle boot with no toe welt. It is surely not an approved use, but I mention it because the effect was amazing—I felt like I was climbing with a competition fruit boot.
The new frontpoint is longer and more aggressively downturned than its predecessor. Grivel has also included five extra midline points on the monorail, which give a nice purchase underfoot when standing on ice blobs, something I appreciate on steep, chandeliered climbs. There are also two midfoot points, which I've found to help when descending. Grivel has included an antibott plate on the heel piece, but nothing on the forefoot. This is the only flaw I could find on the G20 Plus, but for me it was never an issue, and did not rise to the level of keeping this crampon from warranting a five-star rating.
Scott Coldiron is based in Spokane, Washington. He has been climbing for 24 years and has established more than 30 first ascents in Montana's Cabinet Range. (Stories about some of those routes can be found on Alpinist.com here, here and here.)
Coldirion at Granite Lake using his experimental setup with the G20 Plus crampons mounted to his Scarpa Ribelle boots. [Photo] Brian White
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