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Thread: Self Arrest theory ve practice

  1. #61
    Senior Member leaf's Avatar
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    i think the most important thing to remember from the posts here is the fact that self-arrest is only a small part of the skills needed for climbing higher hills. it's the last resort, so to speak. i think learning the basics that cbcbd and giggy pointed out should be given just as much focus if not more than self-arrest. anyone who has an axe and says they aren't going to use it until they learned self-arrest should also consider learning everything that comes -before- a potential fall. cbcbd and gig nailed it. go back and read their posts.

  2. #62
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    The forbidden act with crampons is glissading. This is tempting when someone leaves a trough. Once on Lion Head, there were two broken legs the same day.

  3. #63
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cushetunk View Post
    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.
    Well, I, for one, can spin my loaded shotgun and ice axe like Stacy Singer and if Willard Helburn prefers his ocean voyages sans boat, more power to him. Axes certainly have there place.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grayjay
    The forbidden act with crampons is glissading.
    Absolutely. In fact I think that would definately fall in the "charge them for the rescue" category.

    The days are getting shorter. The sky is grey. Frost on the grass. Brown leaves blowing around. Thank God Winter's almost here !
    Last edited by Chip; 12-05-2008 at 06:42 AM.
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  4. #64
    Senior Member J.Dub's Avatar
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    I must be missing something....

    Quote Originally Posted by Frodo View Post
    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...
    Same here -- I keep the adze under my thumb (cue Rolling Stones track).

    I'm puzzled, though, by your suggestion of practice WITH crampons, once the basics of self-arrest have been mastered.

    I don't disagree that 95% of the time that you'd need to self-arrest you'd prolly have the 'poons on. What I'm not understanding is how practicing with them on is any different than without wearing them. How does the method of executing the arrest change?

    If one practices self-arrest using the axe pick and knees as the three points-of-contact with the slope, then the technique is the same with/without crampons. There would be no benefit (that I can see) and only the potential of injury to body or gear by wearing them.

    From your comment "Better to break your ankle on a ski slope compared to at 19,000 feet...", it almost sounds like you're recommending using your feet to arrest, first learning without crampons and then starting to wear them after getting comfortable with self-arrest. Am I understanding your comment correctly?

    Personally, I'd rather not break my ankle ANYWHERE.
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  5. #65
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.Dub View Post
    I don't disagree that 95% of the time that you'd need to self-arrest you'd prolly have the 'poons on. What I'm not understanding is how practicing with them on is any different than without wearing them. How does the method of executing the arrest change?

    If one practices self-arrest using the axe pick and knees as the three points-of-contact with the slope, then the technique is the same with/without crampons. There would be no benefit (that I can see) and only the potential of injury to body or gear by wearing them.
    Without crampons, you have the choice of pick and knees or pick and toes. Pick and toes gives better braking. (One should only use pick and knees when wearing crampons to prevent the points from catching and breaking one's ankle[s] and/or getting flipped.)

    Using pick and knees all the time (ie with and without crampons) means that you only have to learn one version of self-arrest. Using knees with crampons and toes without means that you have to learn two versions and not make the mistake of using toes with crampons.

    BTW, self-arresting with knees probably has a higher risk of flesh/joint injury than toes (without crampons, of course) if there is likely to be something hard (eg rock, wood, piece of ice) near the top of the snow.

    Another one of those make your own choice situations...

    Doug

  6. #66
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grayjay View Post
    The forbidden act with crampons is glissading. This is tempting when someone leaves a trough. Once on Lion Head, there were two broken legs the same day.
    You don't state which kind of glissade:
    * Standing is generally impossible with crampons
    * Sitting has the above stated risk (crampons can catch in snow, brush, etc)
    * Face-down in self-arrest position is possible and, depending on the situation, may be reasonably safe.

    Doug

  7. #67
    Senior Member Tim Seaver's Avatar
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    Pointing Out The Obvious

    There are also times when surface conditions ( like a thick layer of water ice covering everything in sight after a heavy freezing rain) make self-arrest is all but impossible, regardless of how experienced or practiced you are. Under these conditions, even a small slip off a hiking trail (like the Gulfside or Crawford Path, for example) could result in a short but quick and painful ride into the rocks.

    Sometimes, you just can't afford to slip.
    Last edited by Tim Seaver; 12-05-2008 at 09:44 AM. Reason: typo/grammar

  8. #68
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Seaver View Post
    There are also times when surface conditions ( like a thick layer of water ice covering everything in sight after a heavy freezing rain) make self-arrest is all but impossible, regardless of how experienced or practiced you are. Under these conditions, even a small slip off a hiking trail (like the Gulfside or Crawford Path, for example) could result in a short but quick and painful ride into the rocks.
    Tim points out one surface condition that makes self-arrest difficult to impossible. The other one is very soft snow--nothing for the pick to grab on to.

    As others have pointed out--it is best not to fall in the first place. (And an ice axe is often the best tool to help you keep your balance when on terrain where falling is an issue.)

    Doug

  9. #69
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.Dub View Post
    If one practices self-arrest using the axe pick and knees as the three points-of-contact with the slope, then the technique is the same with/without crampons. There would be no benefit (that I can see) and only the potential of injury to body or gear by wearing them.
    I'll admit broadcasting a recommendation on a public forum to practice with 'pons on is probably a mistake. If everyone only ever practiced the knees technique, you're right, nothing really gained but danger by adding the 'pons. For me it would just be added incentive to not fall back on using my feet.

    I'm not that bright. I need sharp, pointy things to remind me.
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  10. #70
    Senior Member WinterWarlock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NewHampshire View Post
    Hmmm, $25? Thats not too bad....I actually thought it was worse (like $125).

    Brian
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  11. #71
    Junior Member Stoney's Avatar
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    I don't think I would practice self-arresting with crampons on. Not worth tearing an ACL in order to practice for the real thing. Although a self-arrest on a rope team would require using ones feet in addition to the ice axe, so it might be helpful to have a feel for having them on.

  12. #72
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    The NH Chapter is again offering a couple mountain travel/glacier workshops in April - you can check out the offerings here.

  13. #73
    Senior Member Frodo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by J. Dub
    From your comment "Better to break your ankle on a ski slope compared to at 19,000 feet...", it almost sounds like you're recommending using your feet to arrest, first learning without crampons and then starting to wear them after getting comfortable with self-arrest. Am I understanding your comment correctly?
    You are right about that line being confusing. I should have left that off.

    What I was trying to say is personally I like to test the skills I learn in real life situations (ie arresting while sliding head first down a ski slope with a 50 lb pack and crampons on). You are right, the method is not any different, but now you are doing it for real, and I want to have the confidence to know that I can self arrest quckly under real life situations especially when I find myself on dangerous terrain at like 19,000 feet.

    Practicing skills is one thing, but it is also good to test them...
    Last edited by Frodo; 12-06-2008 at 03:27 AM.
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  14. #74
    Senior Member RoySwkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chip View Post
    Winter hiking/mountaineering/climbing requires some skills that a) some people have no idea about b) some people understand/have read about what they're supposed to do but have never, or only briefly, practiced and c) some people understand completely and practice regularly. I'd guess the winter hiking community might break down into these categories like a)40% b)50% and c)10%.
    If you are talking about self-arrest, I'd say the numbers who know much are far lower :-)

    Note that true ice climbers may never learn self-arrest as that skill would be of no value on serious climbs, it's mostly for snow/glacier climbs.

    I've been on hundreds of winter hikes including the NH4k several times and never seen anyone do a self arrest but I have seen someone cut himself on an ice axe used as a walking stick. I don't know anyone that I'm sure would "practice regularly" although some primarily those who climb glacier peaks may "understand completely". If you consider those who go to a winter lecture and have the instructor mention self-arrest as "understand what they're supposed to do" then the percentage may reach double digits but if they don't carry an ice axe this knowledge may be of minimal value. On the other hand, most winter hikers will find this ability less useful that route-finding, heat management, and similar less-sexy skills.

    I mostly use a ski pole but bring a long ice axe maybe twice a year if I think a couple chopped steps might be nice or maybe a couple good holds. If I see a spot where I "can't afford to slip" that's a reason not to go there :-)

  15. #75
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    There were two guys at Sandwich Dome today. They had 12-point (front-point) crampons and ice axes. I presume they did not have a map since they A) asked me which way the trail went* B) were unaware of the common loop and C) when we came down from the top, they were just below the Algonguin jct., and asked me "how much futher?" They were wearing heavy overpants and down jackets for the climb up. Which group do they fit in? a, b or c?

    Tim

    *when I pulled out my map, they came running over to study it.
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