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Avalanche at St. Mary's glacier

Colorado 13er questions, conditions, and other info should be posted here. Also includes topics related to 13ers.com. 13er Trip Reports
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Re: Avalanche at St. Mary's glacier

Postby smoove » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:45 am

Brian C wrote:If you develop the habit of kicking in toes without crampons, that time you take a slide with crampons on you'll instinctively kick in your feet. The goal is to have self arrest be a reflex so you should practice the skill in a way that the reflex will not harm you. So although kicking in feet without crampons can be effective, I would not recommend practicing that.


Yup. Both WTS and BMS classes in the CMC teach "kicking buckets" into the snow with your boots. I'd really like to see them change that for exactly this reason. It's true that if done properly, kicking your feet in without crampons on may help you stop faster. But it seems to me that, more often than not, I'd have my crampons on while crossing an area where I really needed to worry about self-arresting if I fell.

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Re: Avalanche at St. Mary's glacier

Postby Monster5 » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:48 am

It isn't exactly a yes/no deal. In general, points up is a good idea. However, kicking in with 'pons is perfectly fine in some situations and the ability to judge 'em comes with experience. If you're starting out and don't have that experience - yeah, keep your feet up.
It depends on snow conditions, reaction time/speed, and the consequences of the fall. Are you going to break much worse than a leg if you don't get yourself under control? How soft/hard is the snow? Do you have the ability to arrest immediately prior to picking up speed? Do you not have enough weight from your knees to get the point in or are you danglin' straight-armed from your ax like a worm from a hook?
If I'm (edit: or my rope team is) careening towards a crevasse, I want to apply as much torque to the pick as possible. In softer snow conditions, such as during the descent later in the day where falls are more likely, you bet I'm gonna get my points in and my rear up high. Beats testing the depth of a crevasse or a cliff drop.
I could throw in all the disclaimer crap that it's just my opinion, but it's not like it'll change how different mountaineers are trained and practice.

As per the original thread - Edit: Tom Pierce said it much more eloquently.
Last edited by Monster5 on Tue Dec 18, 2012 1:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Avalanche at St. Mary's glacier

Postby smoove » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:57 am

Monster5 wrote:It isn't exactly a yes/no deal. In general, points up is a good idea. However, kicking in with 'pons is perfectly fine in some situations and the ability to judge 'em comes with experience. If you're starting out and don't have that experience - yeah, keep your feet up.
It depends on snow conditions, reaction time/speed, and the consequences of the fall. Are you going to break much worse than a leg if you don't get yourself under control? How soft/hard is the snow? Do you have the ability to arrest immediately prior to picking up speed? Do you not have enough weight from your knees to get the point in or are you danglin' straight-armed from your ax like a worm from a hook?
If I'm careening towards a crevasse, I want to apply as much torque to the pick as possible. In softer snow conditions, such as during the descent later in the day where falls are more likely, you bet I'm gonna get my points in and my rear up high. Beats testing the depth of a crevasse or a cliff drop.
I could throw in all the disclaimer crap that it's just my opinion, but it's not like it'll change how different mountaineers are trained and practice.

As per the original thread - Edit: Tom Pierce said it much more eloquently.


Those are great points about the snow conditions. Interestingly, I was talking to a San Juan Mountain Guides instructor in March down in Ouray and she told me that they don't even teach self-arrest until more advanced classes. Their reasoning is that it often doesn't work. Their initial focus is on teaching people to walk in balance so that they don't fall in the first place. They're afraid that if they teach self-arrest early on, people will develop a false sense of security that they'll be able to stop if they do fall--and hence may not focus enough on walking in balance with an ax and crampons (or even without crampons).

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Re: Avalanche at St. Mary's glacier

Postby Alby426 » Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:08 pm

Glad to see so much talk about this, it brings good ideas to the table.
Let me shed light into some points:
First, it is right that we were right below the arete that produces the Cornices and, that is what probably came down. We only realized that later as, we couldn't see exactly where we actually were on the side of the glacier.
Second, in the tumble video, I AM NOT WEARING CRAMPONS. I hope that it answers that questions. Please do not attempt to replicate what I did. Crampons would have been dangerous.
Third, and I know that I can get flacked for this :mrgreen: the situation actually happened to me. While descending on soft snow, it packed under my crampons and, I went sliding. That, happens fast and , I picked up speed fast, no time to think! As I flipped over to self arrest, before I could raise my feet, the points caught and, I went tumbling. The thing I teach is simple: plant the ice Axe and keep your feet up!
Last edited by Alby426 on Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:48 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Avalanche at St. Mary's glacier

Postby captainp » Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:58 pm

Smoove has made the most important point on this thread. Focus heavily on proper footwork and balance and hopefully avoid having to resort to self arresting.

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Re: Avalanche at St. Mary's glacier

Postby Alby426 » Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:47 am

Thanks Darrin for your kind words . By the way, we need to meet up again soon.

Re: Avalanche at St. Mary's glacier

Postby myusernameis » Tue Dec 03, 2013 9:48 pm

]
alby, I gotta call bs..... you should have not been on a slope you clearly were unable of accurately assessing the safety of!
and, get off you educational pedestal.
Alby426 wrote:In regards to the demonstration, I did it in the most controlled manner and, yes I lost control, that was the point!
You need to know that I was surprised to see how many people are told or think that you should use your feet to self arrest. Well, DON'T! The proof is in the video. That is the reason I did it. It is now used by many organizations and forums to make the point.

I feel that you are missing the point... I, like most other posters on this site are very glad to be able to see an example of what it could 'look like' but you are basically asking to tear an acl, mcl, lcl..... ankle, hip.... stab yourself with an axe, tumble onto ice /rock gear and concuss yourself.... and end up quickly moving from a demonstration into a real rescue scenario..... I feel that the readers of this forum and those where that video is reposted, should undoubtedly be greatfull for the provided learning experience, however it IS completely WITHOUT control.
My point is. I am glad your ok, no one was worrying about you or your party facing life threatening ailments, however your blatant self exposure to potential harm time and again requires a different avenue of thought towards your evaluation of 'risk assessment'. In addition, when it comes to backcountry travel knowing the terrain and being able to safetly assess the terrain you are on, and will be moving on is a much larger part of the issue. you all could have easily been killed by not granting the respect required to terrain you clearly knew nothing about, and could not accurately assess, I don't care what the reasons (visibility, cliffs, ignorance, or the fact that you had your head up your ass).... simply because what you were standing on would not slide does not mean you are in any way clear of a slide path, or in danger of remotely triggering a slide... WHICH YOU WERE!!!! you need to go take an avy class, and stop back talking the potential lessons people learned from your incredibly lucky scenario. You know cars great...... you clearly don't know snow...
(im sorry im not sorry for being a complete dick here.... its this thought process that will cause someone like you to kill someone like me someday,,,, because you survived this one,, you think you have good risk mitigation and assessment skills, and you don't.... when s**t happens,, youll live.... youll just kill someone else.)

="There are old mountaineers, and bold mountaineers, but there are no old, bold mountaineers." (Author unknown --)

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Re: Avalanche at St. Mary's glacier

Postby Gueza » Tue Dec 03, 2013 10:24 pm

myusernameis wrote:]
alby, I gotta call bs..... you should have not been on a slope you clearly were unable of accurately assessing the safety of!


God bless you Captain Hindsight.

Thanks for contributing absolutely nothing useful to this thread that was almost one year old.
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Re: Avalanche at St. Mary's glacier

Postby EatinHardtack » Tue Dec 03, 2013 10:36 pm

^^^Agree with Gueza

Go back to your moms basement myusernameis.

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Re: Avalanche at St. Mary's glacier

Postby tlongpine » Tue Dec 03, 2013 10:49 pm

myusernameis wrote:]
alby, I gotta call bs..... you should have not been on a slope you clearly were unable of accurately assessing the safety of!
and, get off you educational pedestal.
Alby426 wrote:In regards to the demonstration, I did it in the most controlled manner and, yes I lost control, that was the point!
You need to know that I was surprised to see how many people are told or think that you should use your feet to self arrest. Well, DON'T! The proof is in the video. That is the reason I did it. It is now used by many organizations and forums to make the point.

I feel that you are missing the point... I, like most other posters on this site are very glad to be able to see an example of what it could 'look like' but you are basically asking to tear an acl, mcl, lcl..... ankle, hip.... stab yourself with an axe, tumble onto ice /rock gear and concuss yourself.... and end up quickly moving from a demonstration into a real rescue scenario..... I feel that the readers of this forum and those where that video is reposted, should undoubtedly be greatfull for the provided learning experience, however it IS completely WITHOUT control.
My point is. I am glad your ok, no one was worrying about you or your party facing life threatening ailments, however your blatant self exposure to potential harm time and again requires a different avenue of thought towards your evaluation of 'risk assessment'. In addition, when it comes to backcountry travel knowing the terrain and being able to safetly assess the terrain you are on, and will be moving on is a much larger part of the issue. you all could have easily been killed by not granting the respect required to terrain you clearly knew nothing about, and could not accurately assess, I don't care what the reasons (visibility, cliffs, ignorance, or the fact that you had your head up your ass).... simply because what you were standing on would not slide does not mean you are in any way clear of a slide path, or in danger of remotely triggering a slide... WHICH YOU WERE!!!! you need to go take an avy class, and stop back talking the potential lessons people learned from your incredibly lucky scenario. You know cars great...... you clearly don't know snow...
(im sorry im not sorry for being a complete dick here.... its this thought process that will cause someone like you to kill someone like me someday,,,, because you survived this one,, you think you have good risk mitigation and assessment skills, and you don't.... when s**t happens,, youll live.... youll just kill someone else.)

="There are old mountaineers, and bold mountaineers, but there are no old, bold mountaineers." (Author unknown --)



I nominate this comment for the Worst Grammar Award. Other nominees can be posted below.
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Re: Avalanche at St. Mary's glacier

Postby SolarAlex » Wed Dec 04, 2013 12:26 am

myusernameis wrote:]
alby, I gotta call bs..... you should have not been on a slope you clearly were unable of accurately assessing the safety of!
and, get off you educational pedestal.
Alby426 wrote:In regards to the demonstration, I did it in the most controlled manner and, yes I lost control, that was the point!
You need to know that I was surprised to see how many people are told or think that you should use your feet to self arrest. Well, DON'T! The proof is in the video. That is the reason I did it. It is now used by many organizations and forums to make the point.

I feel that you are missing the point... I, like most other posters on this site are very glad to be able to see an example of what it could 'look like' but you are basically asking to tear an acl, mcl, lcl..... ankle, hip.... stab yourself with an axe, tumble onto ice /rock gear and concuss yourself.... and end up quickly moving from a demonstration into a real rescue scenario..... I feel that the readers of this forum and those where that video is reposted, should undoubtedly be greatfull for the provided learning experience, however it IS completely WITHOUT control.
My point is. I am glad your ok, no one was worrying about you or your party facing life threatening ailments, however your blatant self exposure to potential harm time and again requires a different avenue of thought towards your evaluation of 'risk assessment'. In addition, when it comes to backcountry travel knowing the terrain and being able to safetly assess the terrain you are on, and will be moving on is a much larger part of the issue. you all could have easily been killed by not granting the respect required to terrain you clearly knew nothing about, and could not accurately assess, I don't care what the reasons (visibility, cliffs, ignorance, or the fact that you had your head up your ass).... simply because what you were standing on would not slide does not mean you are in any way clear of a slide path, or in danger of remotely triggering a slide... WHICH YOU WERE!!!! you need to go take an avy class, and stop back talking the potential lessons people learned from your incredibly lucky scenario. You know cars great...... you clearly don't know snow...
(im sorry im not sorry for being a complete dick here.... its this thought process that will cause someone like you to kill someone like me someday,,,, because you survived this one,, you think you have good risk mitigation and assessment skills, and you don't.... when s**t happens,, youll live.... youll just kill someone else.)

="There are old mountaineers, and bold mountaineers, but there are no old, bold mountaineers." (Author unknown --)


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Re: Avalanche at St. Mary's glacier

Postby colokeith » Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:10 pm

smoove wrote:
Monster5 wrote:It isn't exactly a yes/no deal. In general, points up is a good idea. However, kicking in with 'pons is perfectly fine in some situations and the ability to judge 'em comes with experience. If you're starting out and don't have that experience - yeah, keep your feet up.
It depends on snow conditions, reaction time/speed, and the consequences of the fall. Are you going to break much worse than a leg if you don't get yourself under control? How soft/hard is the snow? Do you have the ability to arrest immediately prior to picking up speed? Do you not have enough weight from your knees to get the point in or are you danglin' straight-armed from your ax like a worm from a hook?
If I'm careening towards a crevasse, I want to apply as much torque to the pick as possible. In softer snow conditions, such as during the descent later in the day where falls are more likely, you bet I'm gonna get my points in and my rear up high. Beats testing the depth of a crevasse or a cliff drop.
I could throw in all the disclaimer crap that it's just my opinion, but it's not like it'll change how different mountaineers are trained and practice.

As per the original thread - Edit: Tom Pierce said it much more eloquently.


Those are great points about the snow conditions. Interestingly, I was talking to a San Juan Mountain Guides instructor in March down in Ouray and she told me that they don't even teach self-arrest until more advanced classes. Their reasoning is that it often doesn't work. Their initial focus is on teaching people to walk in balance so that they don't fall in the first place. They're afraid that if they teach self-arrest early on, people will develop a false sense of security that they'll be able to stop if they do fall--and hence may not focus enough on walking in balance with an ax and crampons (or even without crampons).



RMI teaches self arrest with use of feet even if wearing crampons. Their reasoning was that developing a reaction that included aggressively engaging your crampons leads to stopping a fall much quicker. This is especially true in "team arrest" where the person going into the arrest position isn't sliding. They want a single trained reaction without needing to evaluate the pros and cons of engaging crampons in that particular fall. They stressed that a broken leg or ankle is much better than being dead. My take is that if you have picked up much speed before trying to arrest engaging crampons could be a big problem. If you have just started to slide (especially if you are already in arrest position) then kick in to stop the fall before you get going. Also when you do arrest the fall immediately and aggressively kick in your crampons to ensure you are secure.
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