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Thread: Self Arrest theory ve practice

  1. #16
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by freedan View Post
    Another option is the whippet attachment for Black Diamond poles. It is like having an axe pick on the handle of your poles. Grivel makes a version too.
    Have you ever actually done a self-arrest using this whippet system? I've not, nor known anyone who has. When I look at one of these in the store I've always been struck with how flimsy they seem, and know how much force is generated within fractions of a second in real life, I've had my doubts about them.

    I would be very interested in hearing from someone who's actually used one, even if the self-arrest was only in practice.

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rooney View Post
    Have you ever actually done a self-arrest using this whippet system? I've not, nor known anyone who has. When I look at one of these in the store I've always been struck with how flimsy they seem, and know how much force is generated within fractions of a second in real life, I've had my doubts about them.

    I would be very interested in hearing from someone who's actually used one, even if the self-arrest was only in practice.
    I have not, I carry a light weight rando racing axe for ski mountaineering, but..

    I have partners that have used them while slide skiing and on steep faces. I have seen them use them but not in some dramatic terminal velocity type of slide. They slip and plunge the whippet in immediately to stop a slide from happening. Also, have the added advantage of ski edges though. More than a few world class ski mountaineers swear by them. Will they work in a really serious high speed slide - maybe - depends on the skill of the user, just like an ice axe.

    They aren't as stout as ice axes and not intended for vertical ice climbing but I have read more than a few trip reports from places like the Wasatch where many use them.

    Booting or skinning a steep face or colouir they offer the ability to punch into the slope on each step without having to carry poles and an axe too. The main advantage is that a whippet is there in your hand at the ready vs. being strapped to your pack at that inopportune moment. YMMV

    Dan
    Last edited by freedan; 12-03-2008 at 02:25 PM. Reason: Should proofread first!

  3. #18
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rooney View Post
    I would be very interested in hearing from someone who's actually used one, even if the self-arrest was only in practice.
    This is a review by someone that used them, although not for an actual fall. I believe they are more for ski mountaineering, and a "better than nothing" strategy.

    Quote Originally Posted by freedan
    Also, as poles are always in your hands they are always ready to be deployed unlike the axe that may be still strapped to a pack.
    I guess that's part of the learning curve; knowing before hand when you should put the poles away and take out the axe.

    Next we can discuss how much studdlier we look carrying axes.

    Edit: Just saw freedan's response, confirming the ski mountaineering thing, where it appears they can be very useful. My concern with ice axes has to do with winter/glacier hiking/mountaineering use.
    Last edited by Chip; 12-03-2008 at 02:31 PM.
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  4. #19
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    Thanks for the feedback, Dan.

    As Chip points out - I think the thrust of the thread is alpine mountaineering. I would be concerned if someone were on a moderate climbing route, such as the Avalanche Gulch route on Shasta, and were planning to use a whippet instead of a alpine axe - that would be a mistake, IMO.

    Obviously, if you're skiing and have poles in your hands, it's impossible to access an ice axe in the event of a fall. A whippet would be better than just the end of a pole.

  5. #20
    Senior Member zman's Avatar
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    A vote for AMC winter skills 1and 2

    Many years ago, (more than I would like to remember) I took skills 1 and 2- Great teachers /leaders- We spent much time in Tucks and Huntington cramponing up and then practicing all four positions for self arrest down-I highly recommend the courses- I've rarely feel the need to carry an ice axe in the whites but occasionally (once a winter) take it out in order to practice-

    Doug makes an excellent point: it becomes much, much more difficult as you build speed- our instructors had us progressively climb ,higher and slide for longer before arresting (they did provide plenty of run out!!!) and we all were pretty worn out at the end of the day.

    A great resource I frequently use to refresh my winter skills is MOUNTAINING, The Freedom of the Hills-

  6. #21
    Senior Member Woody's Avatar
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    I've practiced self-arrest on a local sledding hill. Lots of fun and you will probably end up doing some teaching as well!
    Woody

  7. #22
    Senior Member NewHampshire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nartreb View Post
    Chip makes excellent points. Proper axe technique takes practice.

    Question: where in New England are the best spots to practice?
    Looking for steep, long snowfields with relatively benign landings [type 1], or that can easily be securely belayed from solid (idiot-proof) anchors [type 2].

    Tuckerman bowl [type 1], where else? Any ski areas that don't mind having their slopes torn up, maybe just before a scheduled resurfacing?

    I think I know of a pretty good place. At the parking lot just off to the left of the Tram parking lot at Cannon where you can park to access the Kinsman Ridge Trail. If you look to the right of where the trail starts up you will see a little, steep face that we were using last year as a swiss bob run. It has a drop of about 30 to 40 feet IIRC. If we pack it down with snow shoes (and/or swiss bobs ) it could make for a pretty good run.

    Unlike Tim I own an Ice Axe. But like him I will not use it until I know what I am doing. And I too reall can't and don't want to pay a lot of money for a weekend mountaineering course (all just to learn the one thing I want which is self arrest). Between Christmas, a Wilderness First Aid course to pay for and another fairly large purchase coming up in the next few months I just can't dish out big dough.

    So Tim, if ya want to get together we could do some practice using the video someone linked by those British mountaineers as a basis. Since we are pretty much the same height my Ice axe should be perfect for both of us to use/practice with. We can just practice sans crampons so as to minimize potential injury.

    And maybe we could find a place closer to home so we don't have to drive 2 hours or so just to spend the day practicing self arrest.

    Brian
    Last edited by NewHampshire; 12-04-2008 at 07:55 AM.
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  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by NewHampshire View Post
    So Tim, if ya want to get together we could do some practice using the video someone linked by those British mountaineers as a basis. Since we are pretty much the same height my Ice axe should be perfect for both of us to use/practice with. We can just practice sans crampons so as to minimize potential injury.

    And maybe we could find a place closer to home so we don't have to drive 2 hours or so just to spend the day practicing self arrest.
    We can investigate that. Rock Rimmon? Uncanoonuc? A sledding hill somewhere? Anyone else in the Manchvegas area??

    Tim
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  9. #24
    Senior Member giggy's Avatar
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    its a good idea to get proper instruction on not just self arrest, but also the basic fundamentals of climbing - self belay with axe, plunge step, down climbing - so your hopefully don't have to use the self arrest. If your sliding and have to use the self -arrest, something already went wrong. Maybe it was something you could have controlled and maybe not. But if you know the fundamentals of mountaineering, then maybe the fall doesn't happen.

    I suggest spend the money and get taught right. 25 bucks and a weekend away from peakbagging isn't too much to sacrifice. (amc weekend)

    better yet, get a group and have IME or another guide take a few of you out - my guess is it would be about 100 bucks a person. You don't need to know how to dress, hydrate, etc - They will take you out on steep terrain and teach you the right way to do things. Its really amazing what they can teach you in one day. After that day, you take what your learned and then practice.

    If you're not willing to sacrifice some money and time, then best to stick to normal trails. you fall on valley way, likely not a big deal, you fall on lions head winter route or tuckerman headwall in winter, your getting hurt or killed. worth the $$

    all I am saying, is self-arrest is just one part of the wonderful world of mountaineering.

    just saying.

  10. #25
    Senior Member WinterWarlock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by giggy View Post

    I suggest spend the money and get taught right. 25 bucks and a weekend away from peakbagging isn't too much to sacrifice. (amc weekend)

    better yet, get a group and have IME or another guide take a few of you out - my guess is it would be about 100 bucks a person. You don't need to know how to dress, hydrate, etc - They will take you out on steep terrain and teach you the right way to do things. Its really amazing what they can teach you in one day. After that day, you take what your learned and then practice.

    If you're not willing to sacrifice some money and time, then best to stick to normal trails. you fall on valley way, likely not a big deal, you fall on lions head winter route or tuckerman headwall in winter, your getting hurt or killed. worth the $$

    all I am saying, is self-arrest is just one part of the wonderful world of mountaineering.
    Giggy - I had problems with the AMC site yesterday - so if you have a link to such a course that's be great.

    Thanks.
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  11. #26
    Senior Member J.Dub's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chip View Post
    Most people should have at least done the otter slide down the hill with the controlled roll onto the axe. That's a bare-bones minimum. I doubt many have practiced head first and backwards while being dragged by your buddy into a crevasse or over a ledge. Or how to manage crampons in a slide.
    Agree with the need to practice, practice, practice -- esp. the head-first and backwards variations -- but I've always read and been told not to wear the poons when practicing, to avoid those pesky snapped ankles. What're others' thoughts here?

    Also agree with the other responses that a quick-but-ugly (or quick butt ugly, when I do them ) arrest is preferrable over the slower-but-textbook-perfect arrest, due to the quick acceleration on steep slopes.

    Practicing with a full winter pack is something I've not done yet, but definitely will. That extra fiddy pounds will make the acceleration quicker and getting into the correct position that much harder. Good call there.

    Maybe it's just my partners, but nobody seems willing to jump into the crevasse to help me practice glacier travel self-arrest. Chip, are you volunteering...?
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  12. #27
    Junior Member Jeff's Avatar
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    No need for 2 hour approaches to practice (ie. huntington, great gulf), just find a hill.

    in order for self arrest to save you big factors are the type of snow/ice you're on. If you're on hard neve or ice you'd better damn well arrest fast. Once you pick up too much speed, cash in the life insurance policy or get ready for medical bills.

    I spend more time practicing not to fall - i.e. footwork, ice climbing, etc. Many people fall when they get tired. Get fit and don't get tired so easily. I always advocate these peripheral approaches.

  13. #28
    Senior Member MichaelJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WinterWarlock View Post
    Giggy - I had problems with the AMC site yesterday - so if you have a link to such a course that's be great.

    Thanks.
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  14. #29
    Senior Member Lawn Sale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nartreb View Post
    Chip makes excellent points. Proper axe technique takes practice.

    Question: where in New England are the best spots to practice?
    Looking for steep, long snowfields with relatively benign landings [type 1], or that can easily be securely belayed from solid (idiot-proof) anchors [type 2].

    Tuckerman bowl [type 1], where else? Any ski areas that don't mind having their slopes torn up, maybe just before a scheduled resurfacing?
    Willey's Slide is where I have practiced in the past, which is nice because I'm already there doing some climbing. While the runout on the bottom can be a little intimidating, it's not bad if you don't start from the top and you'll stop in plenty of time. It's also close to the highway, but can be busy during the 'season'.

    Guilty! I know I don't practice enough, and now that I think about it, I have never had my hiking pack on while practicing.

    I'd be in for getting a group together with IME since I have never had formal training, just what I've read and been shown by other climbers. I've only fallen once, brittle ice let go under my crampons and I only had one axe planted, and there isn't much self belay on vertical ice. The rope (and my brother) kept me from plunging into the trees, pretty hairy feeling when you're not in control.
    Last edited by Lawn Sale; 12-04-2008 at 09:34 AM.
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  15. #30
    Senior Member WinterWarlock's Avatar
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    Thanks Michael - not quite the $25 Giggy mentioned , but looks like a good program.

    I kinda like the IME option better - have to look into it a bit more.
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