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The root of Kahtoola’s commitment to people goes all the way back to 1993 when Owner and Founder, Danny Giovale, found himself descending with his brother off of the Graffer Route on Campanile Basso—a spire that stands over 1000 feet tall in the Italian Dolomites. As the two were making their way down a steep gully on foot, Danny’s climbing shoes slid on the frozen surface, and he suddenly found himself careening 200m down an icy slope.

The next few moments would impact Danny for the rest of his life. As he was falling, time seemed to stand still and Danny thought about how his death might impact his loved ones and friends. He came to a stop shaken but alive, and it was clearer to him than ever that life is a gift worth celebrating.

Danny left Italy and returned home to Flagstaff, Arizona. With the fall still fresh in his mind, he looked into statistics around accidents on slippery surfaces. Danny found that, according to the American Alpine Club (AAC), slipping on icy, snowy terrain was the leading cause of death and injury while climbing. And to his surprise, Danny couldn’t find a reliable, secure traction device that could be worn over flexible footwear and easily carried in a pocket or backpack—nothing that could help him avoid another accident like the one he had in Italy.

Convinced that outdoor experiences could be made safer, Danny ultimately took up the challenge to design and build a pair of packable crampons that could be used with flexible footwear. It was a long road, but four years and dozens prototypes later, he accomplished that mission with the world’s first crampon designed for hiking. Now known as our KTS Hiking Crampon, this groundbreaking traction device is still helping make the outdoors safer, more accessible and more rewarding more than two decades later.

6 products