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Thread: Self Arrest theory ve practice

  1. #46
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougPaul View Post
    The video that I references a couple of posts ago advocates using one's knees even without crampons so you can use one technique in either case.
    That's how I believe self-arrest should be taught, using your axe, body weight and knees - don't even introduce the feet - then graduate to practice with the 'pons on. The whole idea of practice is to expose yourself to the situation before an accident does.

    Quote Originally Posted by DougPaul View Post
    Unfortunately, this results in a less-than-best self-arrest without crampons.
    Yeah but that's not hardly relevant if you're on a mountain in crampons.
    Again, THE BEST self arrest is to remain standing to begin with.
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  2. #47
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chip View Post
    Yeah but that's not hardly relevant if you're on a mountain in crampons.
    Of course not--I was talking about self-arrest when you are not wearing crampons. Bare-boot toes dig in better than knees.

    Doug

  3. #48
    Senior Member cbcbd's Avatar
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    To take it a step further, I guess if you really wanted some realistic and dangerous scenarios with crampons I'd practice these, since it's what I've seen happen most often:

    -While walking downhill, trip on your crampon points or catch a point on a pant leg... basically stumble forward onto the snow.

    -Tie in to a rope, do a rising diagonal traverse on the slope and have someone pull you off balance with the rope by pulling it down the fall line.

    -Tie in to a rope, descend, have someone tug on the rope downhill from you (to replicate a member downhill losing it)

    I guess what I'm getting at is that (with proper french technique) you rarely "slip" with crampons on - it's usually a stumble or getting pulled off balance by a ropemate.

    If you want to practice crevasse scenarios, what I did with friend was - we found a steepish lip in the snow, we both tied in, when I got to the lip I would jump down with force, he would then try to self-arrest and try to setup an anchor while in that position.
    Doug

  4. #49
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    Never, never, never ever practice in crampons unless you want to risk breaking an ankle or leg and always wear a helmet. Self arrest in an emergency mode with crampons requires you to keep your feet off the ground. Practice means practice. You are risking serious injury by trying to figure out how to use an axe with your crampons on. Remember it is an emergency manueuver.
    Do your best to find a class like one from the AMC volunteer committees. It is money well spent.
    Last edited by kevinmac; 12-04-2008 at 03:37 PM.
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  5. #50
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevinmac View Post
    Never, never, never ever practice in crampons...
    Well how about StabilIcers then ? I agree practicing in crampons is dangerous, but per my initial post; the problem with what people have been taught or practiced re self arrest basically ignores the most likely scenario where you're heading head first down the mountain in crampons. Practicing on your knees may suffice.

    You know what; I have an old pair of Grivel AirTech Lites that are so dull, they'd be perfect for this. You'd feel them but there'd be no scars.
    Last edited by Chip; 12-04-2008 at 03:56 PM.
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  6. #51
    Senior Member nartreb's Avatar
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    Of course when trying something for the very first time, safety is paramount. So if you've never self-arrested before, then learn to do it without crampons first.
    But you won't know if you're doing it correctly until you can also do it with crampons on. The point of practicing is to learn to do something correctly, then practice that until it becomes habitual. If you've taught yourself a technique that might cause a broken ankle, you haven't done yourself much good.

    (What you've taught yourself would still be useful sometimes, i.e. when travelling with an axe but not crampons. Such a mode of travel can be a reasonable choice depending on conditions and circumstances. But the principle of don't-slip-in-the-first-place indicates that you usually want those crampons on.)

  7. #52
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    When you take a class, you will be taught to self arrest on your back, stomach, facing every which way. It is not a perfect world when you fall on a steep slope as you are traveling in a variety of directions.
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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. Many ski mountaineers swear by their whippets and don't carry axes. The reasoning is that the poles are always in your hands, as soon as you slip just plunge them into the snow before a slide picks up speed. 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 rarely carry an ice axe unless I am on a glacier, technical terrain (i.e., ice), or roped up. But, for over three decades I used Ramer ski poles with self-arrest grips, which were fantastic (until the poles wore out). Although I do not like the self-arrest grips on my BD poles as much as the Ramers (no longer made, as Paul Ramer passed away from a nasty flesh-eating disease over a decade ago), the BD's still work fine.

    The key in any self-arrest is making the stop really quickly before you get sliding out of control at high speed, whether on skis or crampons or bare boots, or whether using an ice ax or self arrest pole grips.

    The mistake that I see most commonly made is carrying the ice axe backwards (i.e., pick forward, adz back), which cannot possibly work in a self arrrest, no matter what your position is when you fall or are ripped off the slope by a falling comrade.

  9. #54
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Dasypodidae View Post
    The mistake that I see most commonly made is carrying the ice axe backwards (i.e., pick forward, adz back), which cannot possibly work in a self arrrest, no matter what your position is when you fall or are ripped off the slope by a falling comrade.
    FWIW, carrying an axe with the pick forward might be appropriate, say, on an approach where you are carrying the axe but not in a "danger zone". The idea here being if you trip you won't impale yourself on the pick. Then make the correction to adze forward when you get to that point.

    Quote Originally Posted by kevinmac
    Never, never, never ever practice in crampons unless you want to risk breaking an ankle or leg and always wear a helmet.
    If we back up a bit, the reason kevinmac, and others, have stated this point so passionately is that it's relatively easy to hurt yourself in a self arrest while wearing crampons. My point is that if people spent more time practicing dangerous falls there'd be less chance of injury in a real one.
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  10. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chip View Post
    FWIW, carrying an axe with the pick forward might be appropriate, say, on an approach where you are carrying the axe but not in a "danger zone". The idea here being if you trip you won't impale yourself on the pick. Then make the correction to adze forward when you get to that point.

    Naaa, trying to determine a "danger zone" is too subjective. If the terrain is that laid back, leave the ice axe on the pack, or at home.

  11. #56
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chip View Post
    Well how about StabilIcers then ? I agree practicing in crampons is dangerous, but per my initial post; the problem with what people have been taught or practiced re self arrest basically ignores the most likely scenario where you're heading head first down the mountain in crampons. Practicing on your knees may suffice.

    You know what; I have an old pair of Grivel AirTech Lites that are so dull, they'd be perfect for this. You'd feel them but there'd be no scars.
    That may reduce the risk of goring oneself, but the other (IMO bigger) risk is the crampon[s] catching in the snow and breaking your ankle[s].

    Sometime in the '70s, a hiker fell a little below the summit of Lafayette, lost his axe, and had to stop his slide with his crampons. He then had to walk out on two broken ankles...

    Doug

  12. #57
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Dasypodidae View Post
    The mistake that I see most commonly made is carrying the ice axe backwards (i.e., pick forward, adz back), which cannot possibly work in a self arrrest, no matter what your position is when you fall or are ripped off the slope by a falling comrade.
    This is another of those points where the experts disagree...

    Many say pick backwards because it is closer to (and presumably faster to) self-arrest position. Chouinard (in Climbing Ice) states that you should carry the axe pick forward in Piolet Canne (cane position) and you should be able to flip the axe around for self arrest quickly enough. Certainly the pick needs to be forward in Piolet Panne (pick in the snow, shaft down the fall line, hand on the adz) used in steep snow climbing.

    Take your choice...

    Doug

  13. #58
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougPaul View Post
    He then had to walk out on two broken ankles...

    Doug
    No Problemo. I'll take 2 busted ankles over a caved in forehead everytime.

    Hey, lots of good info here. Thanks to DougPaul, Dr D, kevinmac, John Swanson and the others for pointing out the risks !
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  14. #59
    Senior Member Frodo's Avatar
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    Personally, when climbing steep slopes with a mountaineering axe, I always keep the adze under my thumb for a FAST arrest. Like mentioned, the quicker this is done (regardless of style) the better chance of success.

    As far as practicing with crampons on or off. Definitely practice with them off, but once you become comfortable, then you should start practicing with them on because 95 out of 100 times you ACTUALLY need to self arrest, your going to be on terrain wearing crampons... Better to break your ankle on a ski slope compared to at 19,000 feet...

    BTW, ski slopes are one of the best places to practice
    "The goggles, they do nothing!"

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    Senior Member cushetunk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willard Helburn (Forest and Crag page 525)
    An ice axe is a pretty toy. It looks professional in the snapshot, serves to hook around the next tree on a steep woods-path, and is no heavier or more trouble on the trail than a loaded shotgun. However, I should sooner be in mid-ocean without a boat as on the headwall of Tuckerman's without an ice axe.
    I don't really know what to add to that sort of poetry, other than to note that surely many expert grouse hunters must argue that it is equally fast to carry your loaded shotgun backwards, and in the moment a grouse is spotted, flip it around in your hand and then fire.

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