Well, this week I tested out some great trail running crampons -- the Kahtoola KTS Aluminum (Kahtoola site) -- which put some of these peaks within reach.
The KTS crampons (retail $139.00) are made to fit over running shoes or light hiking boots, are lightweight (19 oz per pair), and have ten 3/4 inch points, which are aggressive enough to grip firmly in compact snow but not so sharp or long that you'll need to be sutured up if you take an awkward stride.
To test the KTS's, I mapped out a nine mile route that started with a 3.5 mile road run to the base of the Sun Valley, Idaho ski hill (Warm Spring side), then (after strapping on the KTS's) straight up the main 1.9 mile groomed ski run to the top (3200 ft vert; elev 9100 ft), and then down relatively run-able groomed trails to where I started (River Run side).
The upshot: on compact and well-groomed ski trails, the Kahtoola KTS crampons were near-flawless. They're quick and easy to put on. They grip surprisingly well on very steep ups and very steep downs. And, except for a tad of extra weight, they feel very natural when running.
I did have to readjust the straps a few times, especially after sections of very steep downs, but some more experience with the KTS's could help with this. Another quibble is that on very steep ups, the KTS's can cause your heel to slip, since the crampons simply can't flex as much as the running shoes want to. Overall, though, these are minor frailties.
The KTS's are not -- as the Kahtoola website seems to imply -- a great choice for all types of snowy trail running. In anything looser than compact snow, you'll post-hole pretty much as you would in regular running shoes.
But, if you're lucky enough to live within striking distance of a good ski hill, and you're in desperate need of some vertical, the Kahtoola KTS Aluminum crampons could be just what you're looking for.
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