I want to practice my self arrest technique. So I need to find a snowy slope to slide down and practice digging my ice axe in, turning, etc.

What kind of slope should I be looking for? What kind of angle, etc. I obviously want somewhere safe but steep enough that I will actually slide down it.

Also how do you start a slide to practice this? In my experience it's quite hard to start sliding on purpose!

  • just see the videos on youtube I posted on the other question and you'll get an idea of the slope you have to search for and how to start sliding.
    – Phab
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 9:47

3 Answers 3


In general it really depends on the snow condition.

Angle: If it's powder snow you need a quite steep angle (25 degrees and more). If it's icy/ hard/ wind slab snow then you can try it on a less steep (20 degrees) slope.

Safety: I would search for a slope where you have a safe run off, if you can't manage do arrest yourself. And also that your runoff is not in an steeper avalanche terrain.

How to slide: To start sliding you can start on your butt, that's the simple way. You can also start head, knee down with your head to the sliding direction. then bend over and start to slide and enjoy.

Additional Infos: Keep in mind to train it also with a backpack, crampons, rope, ... this makes it also much harder to turn and arrest yourself.

  • 1
    We don't get a lot of powder in North Wales?! :) mostly wind slab.
    – user2766
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 14:38
  • 3
    Training with crampons is very high risk activity. Do not do this. Instead have a partner watch tell you "If you had crampons on you just broke your (left/right/both) ankles". I have seen four broken ankles on the mountains - one rolled on rock, the other two accidents happened during self arrest practice. (In this case 1+2 does equal 4)
    – user5330
    Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 3:47

Unless the slopes gradually becomes less and less steep and you're sure there are no glaciers hidden under it, then the only way to safely practice that is to build a solid backup anchor on top of the practice slope and tie into it with a significant amount of rope slack.

How to build the anchor is dependent on the terrain. There could be ice on top of the slope, or rocks, or most likely just snow. How to build an anchor in the various situations is a vast and wide argument.

If you don't know how to build one, learn that before learning self arrest. Seriously. Then, you can build one and also utilize it to practice self arrest even on very steep slopes with the safety of the rope backup.

Source: own experience and this book which is great and has a chapter on the subject.

  • Just make sure you do not hang yourself on the slack rope! - This suggestion makes you safe from one problem but creates a whole new set of hazards to manage. If you cannot find a place with a safe runout, do not practice self arrest.
    – user5330
    Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 3:43
  • I can hardly imagine how the rope could do a full twist around your body.
    – Dakatine
    Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 5:52
  • 1
    A belay is totally unnecessary for this. All you need is a safe runout.
    – user2169
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 20:34
  • Totally? I'd say that it depends on the slope, sir.
    – Dakatine
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 18:29

Also how do you start a slide to practice this?

Go with a friend and randomly push each other over - self-arresting is a lot easier when you expect to fall over. What you really need to practice is how to manoeuvre your body & axe into a suitable arrest position when you're going head first, rolling sideways etc.

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