Grand Canyon Hiking- Crampons

Old Dec 17th, 2007, 06:14 PM
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Grand Canyon Hiking- Crampons

My husband and I will be going to the Grand Canyon for one night the week after Christmas. We are looking forward to doing some hiking. We saw that the both the Bright Angel and Kaibab Trails are icy. Is there any where to rent crampons (they are recommended on the NPS website) in the Grand Canyon area?
Kerry392 is offline  
Old Dec 17th, 2007, 06:30 PM
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There's a general store near Yavapai Lodge with a sporting goods section and they used to rent buckle-on crampons for a couple bucks a day, not sure if they still do or not. If not you can buy them in Flagstaff for a few bucks.

Even if it's icy you can still make it safely by walking carefully on the inner edge, but you have to be really careful. If it's dicey in a spot I just sit down and pick my way carefully for a short distance. Usually only the top 500 ft or so elevation is icy, usually in the early morning but not so much later in the day, and Kaibab is worse than BA in my experience because it's more shaded and has fewer mules chopping the ice with their hooves.

Bill_H is offline  
Old Dec 17th, 2007, 06:45 PM
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Family did Bright Angel a few years ago just before Christmas. There had been a light dusting of snow overnight but the trail was not icy at all. In some places the surface is very loose so that caused some cautious steps. Enjoy!
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Old Dec 17th, 2007, 06:59 PM
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Here's a link to the Babbit store I mentioned at the Grand Canyon, scroll down near the bottom and they list rental prices, crampon rentals are $4 for the first day, cheaper for longer.

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Old Dec 17th, 2007, 08:48 PM
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That might be a pretty old link---the area code is now 928. But you can call the store (it's the Village Marketplace at Grand Canyon Village, inside the park near Yavapai Lodge) at 928/638-2262 and ask about crampons. The link says they are instep crampons, which are probably safer for someone who has not used mountaineering crampons. They'll give you some grip but you won't trip over your toes!

I find hiking poles help a lot with stability too.
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Old Dec 18th, 2007, 05:40 PM
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The General Store near Yavapi Lodge also sells Yax-Trax with velcro straps that extend from one side of the boot over the top to the other side of the boot. When I was there on Dec. 1st I met several guys from New Orleans who had purchased these and were very happy with them. They cost $35 for one pair and while they are more expensive than the crampons, I personally would choose to wear these down a snowy icy trail instead of the crampons because they offer a greater area of traction.

There was a recent discussion on the Grand Canyon yahoo group about snow and ice on the upper sections of both the Bright Angel and the South Kaibab Trails. There was snow and ice on December 1st and 2nd on those sections and apparently it's still there.

To join that group to read that discussion go to and join the grand_canyon_hikers group.

Bill makes the good point that only the uppermost sections of the trails become icy so you can be sure that you will hike out of the snowy-icy conditions, but being an extremely cautious sort, I would never consider going to the trailhead if there was a possibility of snow or ice on the trail without at least crampons and as enzian said, hiking poles. If you are planning to hike down South Kaibab and it is icy and snowy on the trail when you are there, a good idea is to wait until the first mule train ascends the South Kaibab Trail coming up from Phantom Ranch and then walk down in the footsteps of the mules. We did that one March after a substantial snowfall the night before. Although we had crampons with us, by waiting for the mule train to come up, we did not have to use them and the footing was secure.

canyonjane is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2007, 07:01 PM
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Thanks for the great advice. Because I am not the most graceful person quot;> , I think I will rent (or buy) the crampons and poles. I forgot about using the poles! We will not be arriving until around 11, so hopefully some of the mule tours will have been through the area.

Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Kerry392 is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2007, 08:57 PM
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By 11 it's usually softened up a bit ... the really treacherous time is if it's warm during the day (say 40's) so it melts a bit and then it's in the teens at night so you get glaze ice early in the day. Kaibab is particularly bad early, it's about 400 ft higher elevation than Bright Angel and the switchbacks at the top keep it shaded much of the day.

Jane's tip about following the mules is a good one, their hooves really chop it up. Just don't eat the green or yellow snow

FWIW I slipped once on ice on a non-maintained trail (Grandview) while wearing a heavy pack and skidded about 40 feet, leaving a trail of fabric, then skin, then blood from by upper thigh. Felt like a bobsled run. After that I always brought crampons when it was icy but I never actually felt the urge to put them on and never fell again. Just take your time and you should be fine.

Bill_H is offline  
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