First, we want all of you to be safe, so please avoid the snow and ice in the mountains until you have taken a class on ice axe and crampons from a mountain guiding company, they will teach you the proper techniques on how to use these tools.
The Ice Axe is use for self-arrest when falling and should always accompany a foot traction device.
Crampons are metal spikes (usually 10-12 spikes) that fasten to the bottom of your boot to give you traction in the snow. In-step crampons only have 4 spikes and do not cover the whole foot, so we don’t recommend these. Microspikes are not for climbing and should only be used on relatively flat hikes in the snow. Rubber traction devices (i.e. Yaktrax) should only be used in urban environments, they will NOT give you the proper traction to be safe in the mountains. We only recommend full crampons because the spikes are much longer, thicker and will give you the protection you need to be safe.
Please be aware that sometimes the ice can be so hard that none of these tools will penetrate the ice, in which case the safest thing to do is to turn back and return another day. Remember, it’s the hike and getting outdoors that counts, not the summit. There are many hikes to choose from below snow line, so please be safe!