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 Post subject: Ice ax arrest while snowboarding?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:23 pm 
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Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2009 5:42 pm
Posts: 125
Location: Seattle, WA
Has anyone ever had to arrest while riding steep, hardpack slopes? If so, how did it go? I'm a mountaineer/climber, so I'm familiar with arresting while climbing. I've been wondering what it's like to arrest w/ a board on your feet, though. Seems like it could be very difficult in certain positions, e.g. feet first, on your back/butt or head first on your back/butt; flipping over to arrest position would be a bitch (I'm guessing).

Thanks for the help!


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 Post subject: Re: Ice ax arrest while snowboarding.
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:39 pm 
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Yeap, had to do it both ways. This is a great thread! I've spent many hours contemplating just this question.

I pretty much think now, that if you're on your heel edge, on steep icy gnar exposure, that any fall is not arrestable with an ice axe. The two times that I've screwed the pooch on my heel edge, I've miraculously saved myself by re-gaining my edge control and popping back onto my feet. These days I plan steep lines SUPER carefully.

A while back I got extremely cruxed out on a 60 degree roll-over on a bunch of rime ice, and of course above a narrow chute with a cliff traverse. Had to pull some Xavier shit and plop in a picket while I self-belayed and flipped over onto my toes. After that, I really realized just how exposed we are on our heelside turns. You gotta be ON IT!

I feel like toeside is a completely different story. First of all, you are in a perfect self arrest position. Secondly, you have your toe edge, which is unbelievably powerful.

Long story short however, falling and sliding uncontrollably, no matter what edge you're on, is just not good. If its too ice to actually ride it well, then screw it. Its too damn dangerous!

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 Post subject: Re: Ice ax arrest while snowboarding?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:49 pm 
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Location: Above the clouds
I've been in this situation before, and I agree completely with Russman. Though in my heelside fall I didn't feel like I had enough time, or edge to face the mountain. So.... I used the ice ax as a glissade brake. Honestly in a 300' vert fall I believe the ax kept me from eating fumaroles.

This was on bullet proof ice below the shrund on Mt Hood.

I recommend extreme caution when riding with axes. It all happened so quick it was pure reaction, and I'm glad I didn't skewer myself. :twocents:


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 Post subject: Re: Ice ax arrest while snowboarding?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:09 pm 
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Location: Eugene and Coos Bay, Oregon.
chronicracing wrote:
I recommend extreme caution when riding with axes. It all happened so quick it was pure reaction, and I'm glad I didn't skewer myself. :twocents:


I have ridden with an axe quite a few times during corn season. Fortunately, I have never lost an edge and needed to use it. I look forward to hearing other's experiences.

I did use it once to self belay myself down a steep, firm (luckily the axe handle would penetrate), bumpy slope.

Another time, coming down Baker, I still had my axe out as it had been snowing and really firm on the Roman Wall. Lower down in the rain, I hooked my nose in the slush. I dropped the axe and almost landed on it. After that I put it up as soon as possible because it has its own significant dangers.

Corn can be pretty firm and you can still get an edge in to stop a fall. The real issue is that just a slight change of aspect or snow condition can make perfect firm corn suddenly bullet proof and much more dangerous.


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 Post subject: Re: Ice ax arrest while snowboarding?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:26 pm 
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heel edge is too sketchy on ice. it wont work. dont even try.

however i have tried practicing things that i think may happen, such as losing a heel edge on icy steeps. i found the best way was carry the axe in your back hand, and when you slip out you reach that hand across your body (feet first, on your butt) (regular riders have ax in right hand, arrest on left side of body) grab the ax with both hands. if you are limber enough you can almost put all your upper body wieght on top of the pick.

while riding death ice on hood this october i found even a 25 dergree slope was too steep for heel edge and it took a looong time to get the axe in in the fashion i just described.

if shit has gone wrong to the point where you are on your back head first...it is probably too late any way.

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 Post subject: Re: Ice ax arrest while snowboarding?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 8:41 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2007 11:18 pm
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Location: reiter hills
I'd like to see it done...all ways.



I sometimes have it in hand for self belay or assisting a jump turn to prevent losng elevation. Or in between the back and pack ala danny helmstadter.

Funny, but I am just as comfortable on either edge. It's just getting from one too the other when it's firm.


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 Post subject: Re: Ice ax arrest while snowboarding?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:26 pm 
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Glad I'm too big a pu$$y to worry about this. When conditions are like you guys are describing I expect I'll be on my mountain bike!

Stay safe out there.


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 Post subject: Re: Ice ax arrest while snowboarding?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:36 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 10:05 am
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Location: Colorado
If one plans on attempting descents where ice axe self arrest may be necessary in a sliding fall situation, one should practice self arrest (while strapped into the board) on a slope with a safe runout until one is confident that it can be done.
It is possible to self arrest in a heelside position, but without practice, it is unlikely that one will be able to pull it off when it matters. The technique for a heelside self arrest is to twist the body over the front foot and drive the axe head in, bearing down with the rear shoulder facing in to the slope. For regular foot riders, hold the axe in the right hand. This technique will be much more difficult if one rides duck, a handful of degrees of positive angle on the rear foot goes a long way to making this type of arrest possible.
I have (luckily) never had to attempt a self arrest while riding (or climbing for that matter), but I do practice it so that if I do start sliding, I have a chance at stopping a fall before it is too late. I have used the axe to self belay in spots too narrow and/or icy for riding.
I agree that the type of descents where any of this might be necessary should be approached with the utmost caution and ice axe self arrest should only be viewed as a last resort-if the rider has the skills necessary for descent in question, and makes the right decisions regarding the conditions on the route, then a sliding fall "should" not happen. Just as we practice companion rescue in an avalanche, we should practice ice axe self arrest, with the understanding that we "should" never have to actually use these skills if we are doing things right.

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 Post subject: Re: Ice ax arrest while snowboarding?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:03 pm 
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Location: Canada
Seems everyone else has covered the basic idea, so here is the proof. My axe is in the left/back hand, leashed too. Practice makes perfect.

Image

Skyladder, Mt. Andromeda

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 Post subject: Re: Ice ax arrest while snowboarding?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 6:08 pm 
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Location: Colorado
boyracer wrote:
Seems everyone else has covered the basic idea, so here is the proof. My axe is in the left/back hand, leashed too. Practice makes perfect.

Image

Skyladder, Mt. Andromeda


MMMM Skyladder, well done!

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http://protectourwinters.org/
http://14ersnowboardproject.homestead.com/


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 Post subject: Re: Ice ax arrest while snowboarding?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:16 pm 
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Location: Canada
Yeah, we got lucky with the conditions. :bananas:

And when I said left hand, I meant right.

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 Post subject: Re: Ice ax arrest while snowboarding?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 6:34 am 
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Location: Colorado
boyracer wrote:
Yeah, we got lucky with the conditions. :bananas:

And when I said left hand, I meant right.


Yup, good for you! I have made the drive from Colorado twice with the primary goal being Skyladder. Twice shut down, first by a heli crash at Wiegle's, on the second attempt we got to the schrund and were really happy that everything looked great, then it started snowing. We waited an hour, but it was clear there was a real storm. Back to the Icefields Info center, and two hours with a very helpful female ranger and their computers confirmed their computers confirmed a huge spring storm which would put things out of condition for at least 10 days.
I have heard that lately ice melt out has resulted in Skyladder being only very occasionally rideable...

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http://protectourwinters.org/
http://14ersnowboardproject.homestead.com/


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