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Self-Arrest? - Page 2

post #31 of 47
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mountaingirl1961 View Post
...
One note to add to dp's post - always always always ski without pole straps in this kind of terrain. Not only will it help you in avy situations, but it will also help you transition to ski pole arrest should that become necessary.
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Sorry, MG1961, gotta disagree on this point. I think it's too easy to lose your poles in a critical arrest situation without using the straps. Of course, I never use them in trees, but for a different reason.

The most important aspect to self-arrest: DON'T PANIC. I think this bears repeating: DON'T PANIC!

Keep your wits about you, make sure to get feet downhill and on your stomach as quickly as possible. If you still have a pole, both hands on shaft very close to basket, positioned mid-chest, arch your back and dig in to the snow with the tip of the pole - you may really need to use a lots of force to do this.

In the one case that I alluded to above, had I not had the pole strap on (which by that time had slipped around my wrist), I would have ended up in the trees at extremely high speed.
post #32 of 47
The way I learned it was one hand near the basket and the other hand on the grip. I think this gives better leverage than both hands near the basket. Yes? No? Also, it might be quicker/easier to keep one hand on the grip where it already was before the fall.
post #33 of 47
Different folks teach different techniques, sounds like, ICSFM. I learned to keep pole straps off in the backcountry for both reasons I cited - avalanche and self-arrest. The potential tangle getting my hand down to the basket sounds scary to me, to be honest. I was glad to be able to move as quickly as I did.

Ice axe? Different story, although again people do it differently. The bottom line is to not lose your axe. I've had it taught to me to use the wrist leash or to attach to harness... personally prefer attaching it to my harness for convenience on switchbacks.

There are times when ditching poles (and skis) is safer than keeping them on (e.g. avalanches). I guess that's part of why it made sense to me when I learned ski self-arrest to keep pole straps off.

I wish I could remember who taught me the technique. It was a while ago. In all likelihood it was one of the guides from RMI or IMG.
post #34 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by icanseeformiles(andmiles) View Post
Sorry, MG1961, gotta disagree on this point. I think it's too easy to lose your poles in a critical arrest situation without using the straps. Of course, I never use them in trees, but for a different reason.

The most important aspect to self-arrest: DON'T PANIC. I think this bears repeating: DON'T PANIC!

Keep your wits about you, make sure to get feet downhill and on your stomach as quickly as possible. If you still have a pole, both hands on shaft very close to basket, positioned mid-chest, arch your back and dig in to the snow with the tip of the pole - you may really need to use a lots of force to do this.

In the one case that I alluded to above, had I not had the pole strap on (which by that time had slipped around my wrist), I would have ended up in the trees at extremely high speed.
I agree about wearing a pole strap, but I disagree about where to place the hands. I was taught to use one hand on the handle and the other hand just above the basket. I believe you have much better leverage that way.

The ONLY time I do ski with a pole strap on is when I'm skiing something steep and hard where a fall would have unpleasant consequences. Even then, I only wear one strap so I could jettison the other very quickly if need be.

As to the original question, I did teach the pole self-arrest regularly back when I was guiding backcountry skiing in Jackson Hole twenty years ago. We did a lot of spring skiing where we would be traversing on steep, smooth slopes early in the morning before anything had softened up. There were places where you needed to be able to stop if you fell.

Teaching the pole self-arrest is very quick and easy - for me the trickier part was to trying not make first-timers to that kind of terrain so nervous about WHY I was showing them how to slow down that they wouldn't seize up.

As someone said earlier in this thread, the key to the pole arrest is to jam that pole in the snow instantly and as hard as you can. Acceleration of a sliding body on steep slopes is extremely fast. Honk on that pole like your life depended on it. :

I've seen many inbounds situations over the years where somebody could have really benefitted from knowing how to arrest. Now that I do a little bit of instructing, I *do* show people how to use their pole(s) to stop.
post #35 of 47
I haven't used pole straps for years, but I'm going to use them when I get in scary terrain based on Bob Peter's advice. I think I'll use both straps so I have the option to use either pole. If there is any chance of getting in an avalanche, I'll use my life-link poles that have break-away straps in heed of mountaingirl's warning. Thanks both for the suggestions.

When I get on a crazy steep slope, I'm going to make sure I don't fall, but it's good to have a plan B. I did fall in Alta Chutes at Jackson Hole, but got my edges in before I even started to slide. (This was before I knew about pole arrest). I found myself with skis pointed in opposite directions, like a fly on the wall, took a few minutes to figure out how to get out of that position.
post #36 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by mountaingirl1961 View Post



One note to add to dp's post - always always always ski without pole straps in this kind of terrain. Not only will it help you in avy situations, but it will also help you transition to ski pole arrest should that become necessary.
If I don't have my straps on, I may not have a pole to make use of. A situation like this is usually one of chaos. It's an out of control event. It's easy to drop a pole or wind up head first sliding down a steep face by accident.

I've had some crazy falls at Tuckerman's Ravine. It's a fight for survival with some luck on top.

Then try putting your ski back on with your feet three feet apart while your legs are together, in heavy corn snow. It's times like this, they remind me that you can get hurt. It's fun though!
post #37 of 47
Thanks you guys, I'll take heed of your advice. It is great to have experts like Bob chiming in on topics like this. Live and (re)learn! :
post #38 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by icanseeformiles(andmiles) View Post
Sorry, MG1961, gotta disagree on this point. I think it's too easy to lose your poles in a critical arrest situation without using the straps. Of course, I never use them in trees, but for a different reason.

The most important aspect to self-arrest: DON'T PANIC. I think this bears repeating: DON'T PANIC!

Keep your wits about you, make sure to get feet downhill and on your stomach as quickly as possible. If you still have a pole, both hands on shaft very close to basket, positioned mid-chest, arch your back and dig in to the snow with the tip of the pole - you may really need to use a lots of force to do this.
In the one case that I alluded to above, had I not had the pole strap on (which by that time had slipped around my wrist), I would have ended up in the trees at extremely high speed.
I'm definitely not an expert on this, but seems to me that your hand near the basket is the fulcrum, and your other hand should be as far away up the shaft as comfortable to give you leverage on the pole tip that's getting pushed uphill by the snow/ice. Where is Physicsman when you need him. And I never panic.....
post #39 of 47
OK, you guys. Here's what I've done, but I need to know how to do it better. I bet some of you know how to do this right.

I've slid down icy White Heat at Sunday River twice head first, skis both on, studying the sky. This slope does not turn; it's just double black straight down. I dug my ski eges into the ice and dragged both pole handles (straps on!) into the ice long enough to slow myself down and finally stop without hitting anything (lucky).

So here's my question. Everyone in this thread keeps saying get yourself onto your stomach, and get yourself feet first, but they don't explain how to do this with skis on when headfirst and on your back. How do you do this without breaking a leg?
post #40 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by mountaingirl1961 View Post
Thanks you guys, I'll take heed of your advice. It is great to have experts like Bob chiming in on topics like this. Live and (re)learn! :
Why not use Whippets in your case? Sounds like you are sort of the target market for them, though as with everything presonal preferences play a big role.
post #41 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKook View Post
Why not use Whippets in your case? Sounds like you are sort of the target market for them, though as with everything presonal preferences play a big role.
What are Whippets and where do you find them?
post #42 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by FOG View Post
What are Whippets and where do you find them?
They're not really for resorts; MG1961 sounds like she is in the bc a lot which is fairly specialized. Since this thread really relates to inbounds self-arrest & instruction, on reflection it was thread drift on my part to ask the question directed to MG1961 & it may make more sense to address that Q, if at all, in the BC forum (plus it's covered elsewhere on the web) so as not to confuse the issue regarding resorts. Sorry!
post #43 of 47
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by telerod15 View Post
The way I learned it was one hand near the basket and the other hand on the grip. I think this gives better leverage than both hands near the basket. Yes? No? Also, it might be quicker/easier to keep one hand on the grip where it already was before the fall.
I think that makes sense. In my case, it was probably due to just grabbing, doing what I already how to do (from ice axe work), and doing it. Also, I have not practiced pole self-arrest, ice axe is a lot shorter.
post #44 of 47
In this age of so many people skiing through gates into uncontroled terrain, I think it is more than just a backcountry issue.

I just ran into our Nordic Chair for my division, NRM, and it came up as we were talking that NRM will for the first time this year be offereing a backcountry/guiding certification. Requirements are still in the making, but will include some level of teaching certification in any discpline, certified avalanche training, and first aid. I would assume class one avalanche cetification and wilderness first responder first aid training. A candidate will apply with a resume detainling not just the certifications, but also detaining their relevant experience.

I would assume that they would accept candidates outside of our division, for anyone interested. Don't know who the examiners will be, but I would assume that Angela Patnode, our Nordic chair, will be one. She is "highly" qualified, being a NOHLS's trainer and having guided and taught mountaineering in Alaska and India. Should be a good expereince. Later RicB.
post #45 of 47
PSIA-E Nordic has had a backcountry certification course for a few years now. It is part of the Nordic program, but I think fixed heelers and snowboarders can participate. You may need an AT set-up or split-board. I might try to do this.
post #46 of 47
Thread Starter 
bump

The question has resurfaced, and since a lot of us are skiing on early-season hard pack, seemed like a good time to bring this thread back into the queue.
post #47 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by icanseeformiles(andmiles) View Post
I was lucky, I have had self-arrest training with ice axe, and even taught it to students with the Colorado Mountain Club.
BMS? I took it years ago. AWESOME course.
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