I want to put the brakes on so that the stopping force is applied uphill, not downhill. I want the stopping forces to let my feet be downhill so I'm not leading my fall with my head.
Using poles to self-arrest does work. It aligns the stopping forces so that my feet lead the fall. It is a skill that needs to be practiced before needed to be most effective. I have practiced self-arrest with my poles.
If I were sliding downhill, head first, I would certainly consider digging in my toes or heels to slow me down, but my preferred method would be a pole self-arrest which would bring my feet below my head. If I were falling feet first, I wouldn't consider using my feet to stop unless I had not poles and knew I must stop or die or if I was only sliding slowly.
Head first?? So according to your logic you would only use your feet if you lost your polls and you were sliding slowly??? So if your going fast her just going to die, got it.