Recently, after a mountain hike with a lot of steep icey trail, I got thinking about several pairs of old crampons that I have idling in my basement. These can be cut down to make the ultimate icey-trail grippers.
I used an electric table saw with an abrasive metal-cutting blade, and cut off about 1/3 of the length of all the crampon points (24 points for a pair) in under a half hour — including the front points: I decided to keep the front points, in fact I sharpened them after shortening, to be similar to their form as crampons. Nothing technical about this, simply cut off the points to bring the platforms down closer to trail level.
However the resulting stubs of the points were a bit too wide for my liking — they might skid too easily –, so I then used the same saw to notch all of the non-front points in the centre to a depth of about 1/8″, so making 2 ‘sort-of’ points on each stub.
If you like, you can still sharpen some or all of the shorter new stub-points, but I left them flat and still find them very effective.
Cons: they look like crampons and weigh about the same as crampons: I never noticed the weight of crampons when using them as crampons, but I did notice it when using these as trail creepers.
Pros: they are cheap or free if you have surplus crampons lying around, and they give the ultimate grippiness among ice grippers. Their benefit over crampons for trail use is that they feel like your boots are nearly on the trail, rather than the snaggy and stilty feel of crampons. Also they’re less dangerous and won’t wear down as fast as sharp points.
You likely know someone who has a table saw and will let you use it or help you convert a pair of your old crampons.
Orvel — More about ice creepers in the Safety Page, under Resources.