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This is my first appearance in the forum and I am a little reluctant to raise the topic but in the last 2 weeks I have seen and heard things that worry me.
First, I have seen people out on steep snow covered slopes without an ice ax or crampons.
Secondly, a number of people have suggested to me that snow shoes are a slightly lesser form of crampons which should be able to handle steep slopes that are not bullet proof.
I think that this combination of thought can lead to disaster. For the current conditions we have relatively warm temperatures (soft snow) but relatively high winds (hard snow). On Little Bear, Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle I have actually been front pointing in places in the last 3 weeks. You need the ice ax and crampons. Don't try to save weight here. If you try to get around this with a later start you incur a higher avalanche risk and you will be postholing on the way home.
Snowshoes are not a substitute for crampons. They are designed to keep you on top of the show. Crampons are designed to keep you in the snow and not sliding.
I am not the final authority on this, or anything for that matter, but I think we need a discussion of this topic or we are going to have some heart break.
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I agree though that if the slope reaches an angle steep enough to merit crampons, then snowshoes simply will not provide the necessary traction.
I have also seen more than enough people on steep snow without appropriate gear. I've had to carry a few of them out of the mountains as well. It's a valid warning worth repeating.
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