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Ski pole self-arrest

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Ski pole self-arrest

Postby RobRox » Tue May 02, 2017 8:16 am

Since the zany show at Tuckerman Ravine is in full swing:
Bob Peters, Ski Instructor and Guide, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort wrote:OOOPS! I fell.
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Now I've grabbed one pole a bit above the basket with one hand while holding the handle with the other. I'm starting to apply as much pressure as i can to dig in the basket of that pole:
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Now, I've shifted my "basket" hand down as close to the basket as I can and I'm applying every bit of leverage on that basket that I'm capable of. My feet are in the air (trying to show that the skis aren't necessary in this process), and you can see the groove my pole is leaving above me.
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Here, I'm driving that pole and basket into the snow as if my life depended on it.
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Now I've already slowed pretty substantially. I've got a huge amount of bend in that pole, which is an indication of how much pressure I'm applying (thank God for Black Diamond poles ):
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Thanks to Bob Peters!

The only point to consider is whether or not to disengage with the straps of the ski poles before acsending, traversing or descending in no-fall terrain. I mention this because the angle of attack is better with the upper hand about halfway down the pole with the lower hand right against the basket.

I wonder if the Leki quick release straps would release the upper hand strap in the haste and vigor of ski pole self-arrest???
Last edited by RobRox on Tue May 02, 2017 6:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Ski pole self-arrest

Postby Bern » Tue May 02, 2017 11:00 am

A few years ago I did a glacier travel workshop with the New Hampshire Chapter of the AMC in preparation for a trip to climb a western volcano. As part of the two day workshop, a good part of one day is spent on self arrest practice with an ice axe. The practice consists oh hurling yourself in different positions, feet first followed by head first and attempting to self arrest. I was very impressed by how fast your speed goes up on a steepish slope. In a matter of less than two seconds, already speed has increased quite a bit. I've heard of a woman who dislocated a shoulder in a fall and trying to self arrest. Several years ago I saw a video of a fall in the Alps. In about two seconds, the skier was going fast enough that at a bump he went airbourne, tumbling and was thereafter airbourne each time he touched down and consequently, totally out of control. At that point I departed Youtube. I've no wish to see people die.
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Re: Ski pole self-arrest

Postby North816 » Tue May 02, 2017 11:12 am

mmmm, that soft snow in Jackson looks nice, a simple butt-slide would probably work. Of course "get your skis downhill" is rule #1.

If it's that gnarly and you're fond of traveling on bulletpoof ice-crust you'd better have whippet poles. The idea of grabbing at the base of the pole while rag-dolling down the mountain is scary! I guess if your skis are off and your hiking or cramponing the pole might be your only option.
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Re: Ski pole self-arrest

Postby RobRox » Tue May 02, 2017 6:09 pm

It's another tool in the quiver. The long slides in The Ravine could be shorter if this basic skill was part of every skiing lesson.

When I go to the No-Fall Zone I have a Whippet in my fist.

As for IASA, plenty of practice...one involved 300 feet of 6mil on North Slide of Tripyramid. belay station 380 feet above the trees, climb 297 feet above the belay, take a running start and slide headfirst down. No attempt to IASA until passing the belay.

Worked great! We went realy fast and got stopped w/o arrest by cord. However, and this is the cautionary bit, neither of us got stopped in less than 200 feet. Trust me, we tried three goes each and every stop got better, but stoping short like in some movies just did not happen from those high speeds.

IASA and SPSA have to be done the instant of the fall taking you to ground or you will do some travelling...even in that soft Wyoming snow ;)
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Re: Ski pole self-arrest

Postby Bern » Wed May 03, 2017 2:02 pm

That was my judgement also Rob. You have to begin to self arrest almost before hitting the ground on those long steep slopes. This means being hyper alert for the first hint of a fall, your own or someone else in your party. Wearing a backpack just compounds the problem.

You may remember some years ago when a climbing party on one of the western volcanos had such a mishap. As they began their descent, the most experienced climber was the last one on the rope. The thinking, which I read about later, was that he was their first line of defense being the least likely to be the cause of a fall. Naturally, he was the one who stumbled and dragged everyone else on the rope down the mountain. And it got worseter. As they sped down the mountain, totally out of control, they wiped out another party below them. They only stopped when falling into the bergschrund. There were multipull deaths. It is very clear they would have been better off with no rope at all. The lesson for me is to be very careful who you venture into dangerous terrain with.
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