Mt Whitney Webcam
Mt Williamson Webcam
Who's Online Now
0 members (), 66 guests, and 13 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Statistics
Forums10
Topics5,916
Posts53,058
Members4,077
Most Online1,443
Jul 29th, 2019
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Self-Arrest Technique requirement
#56865 04/11/20 07:49 PM
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 2
G
gudgeon Offline OP
OP Offline
G
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 2
Hi all,

So my team's lottery app was not successful, but we were able to snag a date of June 17 for a day hike permit up MWT (assuming things open up again). We were planning on a August-September summit, so in taking this permit we wanted to make sure we are prepared for any snow that we likely will see on the trail.

We were also planning on climbing Shasta this summer around June 25th, and had a glacier travel class scheduled for early May to learn the requisite skills for Shasta (self-arrest, ice axe/crampons, self-belay) that was cancelled due to the virus. So now it looks like we are scheduled for a mid-June Whitney ascent, but we will not have had training in self-arrest or any firsthand experience with an ice-axe. Is this a terrible idea?

Obviously, conditions can change and we don't know what the trail will look like in Mid-June right now, but We want to make sure we are going into the hike fully prepared and don't want to endanger ourselves or anyone else. It will be hard or impossible to schedule a proper self-arrest course between now and mid-June, I think. I guess my question boils down to: how typical is it, in Mid-June, for someone climbing Whitney to be able to put microspikes/crampons on and go in without an ice-axe/a formal self-arrest course and still not be taking excessive risk? How should we know if, when the time comes, we should not hike or continue without proper self-arrest training? Thanks!

Re: Self-Arrest Technique requirement
gudgeon #56867 04/12/20 11:41 AM
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 487
Offline
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 487
Questions like yours come up every year. Iíll try to help, but youíll have to decide for yourself what you feel comfortable doing.

First, self-arrest with an axe can save your life, but itís not rocket science. I would watch some videos and try to find someone who can show you how to do it somewhere near home. If you slip, you need to get into the proper self-arrest position quickly. Practice doing it until you can do it instinctively. Guide services typically make you slide headfirst, flip around, and stop. Practice that, too.

Second, many people want to skimp on footwear in the snow. ďWhy canít I just put MICROspikes on my trail runners and go up the chute?Ē MICROspikes are for low-angle slopes. They are fine for parking lots and trails with minimal snow. They just provide a false sense of security on more challenging terrain. I would bring real crampons (ten-point or twelve-point) with front points unless I was sure that I wouldnít need them. Boots are critical. Crampons can come off with disastrous results at the worst possible time. A stiff boot works much better. In fact, a stiff boot (by itself) often gives better traction than MICROspikes on trail runners. Grab the heel in one hand and the toe in the other. Try to twist (not bend) the sole of the boot. The stiffer the better. Take the money you would have spent on Shasta, and get the proper gear. You may not need it on Whitney, but you WILL need it when you get around to Shasta.

Finally, you might end up waltzing up Whitney in trail runners in mid-June. My wife and I didnít bring any gear the first time we did it on June 22, 1988. Check the trip reports in early June.

Re: Self-Arrest Technique requirement
gudgeon #56869 04/13/20 10:23 AM
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 871
B
Offline
B
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 871
Without professional training in ice-axe/crampon use...and practice...you might rethink your plans for Mt. Whitney...and Shasta! Yes, there probably still be snow on Mt. Whitney and maybe on the approach. There have been several late season snow storms which have added to the snow-pack depths.

Bob Pickering (post above) offered good advice on the topic.

One cautionary note:

There may be shops that will rent ice-axes and crampons, to anyone with the money and zero experience. It would be far better and safer for you to take the training, buy your own equipment, and practice regularly. This is not something you can learn very much from a Youtube video. It takes hands-on training and practice.

When I was with Inyo SAR, we had to retrain in self-arrest annually before we were certified to join snow-country rescue missions, even though we were all very experienced. Does that tell you something? I hope so.

Last edited by Bob West; 04/13/20 10:28 AM.
Re: Self-Arrest Technique requirement
gudgeon #56873 04/14/20 03:48 PM
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 2
G
gudgeon Offline OP
OP Offline
G
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 2
Great! Thanks for the replies. I think as of now we'll wait to see what the conditions are, and see if things open up we can get some self-arrest training and gear before the Whitney ascent.


Link Copied to Clipboard
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.4
(Release build 20200307)
Responsive Width:

PHP: 7.4.3 Page Time: 0.016s Queries: 22 (0.009s) Memory: 0.5884 MB (Peak: 0.6437 MB) Data Comp: Off Server Time: 2020-05-31 00:49:04 UTC
Valid HTML 5 and Valid CSS