4

With autumn starting to appear in the UK I find myself thinking about winter technique once again.

I've practiced self arrest technique, but always avoided doing it while wearing crampons. Obviously in an actual emergency I'd likely be wearing crampons in these situations.

I'm unclear how you perform a successful self arrest while preventing snagging a crampon in the snow in some situations. Particularly I'm unsure the mechanics of this if your sliding down a slope feet first face up. It seems difficult to rotate your body into the self arrest position (facing downwards and sliding feet first down the slope) and not accidently catch a crampon in the snow (resulting in some cringe worthy injury).

What's the best technique to deal with the above situation?


Update

This question; Proper technique for self-arrest with an ice axe, when wearing crampons, doesn't go into details about my particular scenario:

You never want to stop yourself with the crampons because they are liable to catch...The way you do this is first get into self arrest position

I'm interested in how you get into the self arrest position (prone position) without catching your crampons in the process of rotating.

  • Just search youtube for "self arrest with crampons". You'll find some videos. And if the slope is too steep, self arrest will fail at all. Just dont fall ;-) – Phab Sep 8 '15 at 7:37
  • 1
    Liam, could you clarify the question? The basic answer, as stated in Phab's answer, is to bend your knees. This assumes you're already face down. If you start out face up, then the front points of your crampons are up in the air, so you don't have a problem. Could you describe for us in more detail what particular situation you have in mind? There are basically four positions you can fall in: on your back head uphill, on your back head down, face down and head up hill, or face down and head downhill. Is it one of these specifically you're concerned about? – Ben Crowell Sep 8 '15 at 13:52
  • So I'm thinking, on my back, head up hill, crampons in the air (to prevent them snagging). I brace my ice axe into against my collar bone. I now need to roll onto my front to push the head of the axe into the snow. But how do I do that without catching my crampons (as I roll). Does that make sense? @BenCrowell – user2766 Sep 8 '15 at 15:40
3

So I'm thinking, on my back, head up hill, crampons in the air (to prevent them snagging). I brace my ice axe into against my collar bone. I now need to roll onto my front to push the head of the axe into the snow. But how do I do that without catching my crampons (as I roll). Does that make sense?

When you're on your back, you don't need to get your crampons in the air. The front points are what would snag, and they're pointing at the sky. Even if you wanted to keep the heels of your crampons off the snow (which isn't necessary), you really couldn't, because your knees don't bend that way, and it's not practical to raise your legs at the hips in this situation.

To roll, throw your weight to the side, as if you were rolling out of bed. The direction to roll is the one that heads the pick toward the snow like an arrow.

Once you start rolling over, you can bend your knees to keep the front points of your crampons off the snow.

All of this is theoretical and idealized. It's how you should practice it in order to get it in your muscle memory. But in reality it may not actually work out this way, and in a real self-arrest you may actually need to use your front points -- if that's what it takes to keep from going over a cliff, that's what you do.

  • Exactly what I was after, thank you. I didn't think that the heel points wouldn't dig in but I suppose your right. – user2766 Sep 8 '15 at 15:50
  • Its more accurate to say heel points are unlikely to dig in. But it is unlikely to be on you back sliding feet first with any speed. As you (should) instinctively roll to your front as you are going down. (As long as you don't try anything stupid like trying to stop yourself while still on you back.) – user5330 Sep 12 '15 at 21:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy