Butternut Mtn and South Bowen Attempt (Belvidere Vermont)


Help Support vftt.org:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


New member
Feb 1, 2018
Reaction score
Colchester, VT
January, Saturday 23rd.

Parked along the side of the road at the Davis Neighborhood Trail head and headed north to Corliss Camp and the intersection of the Long Trail. Davis has a fair amount of winter travel from snowshoes and backcountry skiers and followed fresh ski tracks to Corliss Camp. Turned north on the Long Trail and the climb up Butternut Mountain. For the first ¼-mile followed old ski tracks and was sad when they turned off. The remainder of the climb was through deep power with no signs of recent travel. Progress would be slow today with the depth of power and most of the tree trunks covered in snow obscuring the notorious Long Trail white blaze. Nothing that day should have risen to a trip report.

Until 4 plus miles in. One side of the bracket holding the binding to the MSR Lightning Ascent broke. Stepped out of the snowshoe to evaluate and in my tracks, I post hole to my upper calf. First thought was - temperature are in the lower single digits, tonight will be below zero, and the odds of meeting another snow travel on this section of the Long Trail low. I do not want to be a statistic! Second thoughts were better – I am carrying that large and heavy pack for a winter day hikes for a reason. I should be ok.

MSR has already replaced both crampons on the snowshoes and at the same time they also replaced the other bracket when that broke. Same failure location on this bracket, a crack that passes through the outside rivet holding the bracket to the snowshoe frame. Options for today’s field repair – four zip ties (promising), two 8-foot lengths of 1.5-to-2-millimeter cord (ok), and a small roll of duct tape (hum). Thinking I could also scavenge straps from pack if need be.
Zip tie threaded through the split ring and around the frame works well. That a good sign.

Now do I push forward the 1.5 miles to South Bowen. No that out. Do I continue north ¾-miles for the VAST trail crossing for Long Trail. VAST would be packed and could have traffic but I do not know the distance I may need to walk before reaching a road if no help comes along. Even reaching a road does not mean having cellular services to call for a ride back to get back to the vehicle at the trail head. No to many unknowns. Turn around and head back is the decision. 2.5 miles. I know I can walk out easily once I reach Davis.

First and second zip tie hold together until I backtrack to Butternut Mtn (+/- 1.5 miles). There I meet a group of backcountry skis. They have followed my tracks up Corliss Camp. That is good sign. Trail will be better packed for my travel down. Third zip tie holds until I reach Corliss Camp. Getting around ½-mile plus per zip tie. No concern now that I am on Davis and could walk out. Use last zip tie, put snowshoe back on and start walking. What, did the other side of bracket break. Take the snowshoe off again. I was paying attention and zip tied the working side of the bracket. Idiot! Wrap a couple three loops of cord through the split ring and around the frame and make the trail head.

January, Sunday 24th.

Evaluate snowshoes and the bracket repair MSR did. MSR removed the original riveted bracket and installed a new bracket using bolts. Based on their last visit to MSR winter could be over if I sent the snowshoes back to MSR. I had not noticed this before. But MSR was using different sized bolts to hold the new bracket in place. That is odd the rivets are all the same size. After disassembly, the reason became clear. The replacement bracket bolt holes do not align with the holes in the frame. They used smaller bolts to fit through the misaligned outside holes.

So, I decided to fabricate some new brackets. Picked up some 12-gauge sheet steel, cut ¾-inch by 8-inch strips and then bent, drilled, and shaped them to work and bolted them to the frame.


Last edited:
Great illustration of what can happen out in the woods. Good that the zip ties worked for you. Very nice looking fix.

I had a crampon failure once and used zip ties but they were cracking due to the cold temps. A friend had some copper wire and it worked much better. I have also heard that Stainless Steel wire ties used by electricians in outdoor applications are also more cold weather resistant. Also a pretty good warning that MSRs customer service has slipped. I do remember several years ago that Lightnings were the "the snowshoe to buy" for about two seasons. I had waited on buying them and bought them the fall before the third season they were on the market. I paid a slight premium by buying them at LL Beans figuring if I did have failure I could return them to Beans. That winter someone started a thread on VFTT about Lightning failures and at least a few folks convinced MSR to swap them to the older plastic design that is now the Denali Ascent.

That fix would be a good spot for someone with good TIG skills to reinforce. Another reason why I need to get my TIG setup going.
Last edited:
Nice job dealing with this. I gave up on my Lightnings some years back after too many failures. In their most spectacular performance the crampon sheared halfway down the east side of Santanoni in about 7 feet of snow. I've been happy on Classic Denalis (no heel lift) since 2014.
Last edited: