I'm looking at some ridge routes that access some pretty serious lines on open faces. While the ascent is fairly safe, safely testing starting zones is sketchy. I'm thinking that either belaying or anchoring from the ridge and digging pits near potential crowns may be a way to do it. Sure, it would be scary to have a slab break loose but being roped in close to the crown perhaps risk would be less than dropping in after having dug a test pit on safe slope 3000 feet below. Of course, this would be a bad idea beneath a cornice but maybe on more windward slopes a viable technique? Thoughts?
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Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:53 pm Posts: 118 Location: Mountain Town, BC
Personally I'd rather rappel into the line and try to get the snow to slide within the first few jump turns. I figure that if a line is steep enough to rap into, chances are it is too steep for an accurate snow pit assessment. Another enjoyable technique is to drop the cornice, thus getting that nasty hang fire nicely out of your way and at the same time throwing considerably more weight on the slope than your measly body can supply. No matter how I approach this sort of thing, though, I'm always more sketched out dropping into an open face than a couloir.