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natedogg

Falling with skis A-framed

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Searched all over the web.  Haven't tried it myself since I've been worried about damaging my pack or skis.

When booting/cramponing up a firm pitch of snow with your skis a-framed to your pack, and carrying an Ice Axe, do the skis make self arrest harder? If you fall onto your back will you even be able to roll over to self arrest? Would the brakes and edges dig in stopping you? Would they catch and just spin you around? Would diagonal carry be safer? Would horizontal carry (under brain of pack) make rolling over impossible?

Really curious if anyone had real world knowledge or experience falling like this.

I might try to borrow a pair of rock skis, use an old beater pack, wear a helmet and tons of padded clothing, and test it out myself in a safe spot this winter.

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I personally think falling backwards like you describe is a pretty unlikely scenario and probably would not dwell on the possibility of that happening. Most people die from avalanches or being caught in bad weather.

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Agreed, if it is that sketchy to climb up typically you bail because it would be even worse to ski!

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5 hours ago, jon said:

I personally think falling backwards like you describe is a pretty unlikely scenario and probably would not dwell on the possibility of that happening. Most people die from avalanches or being caught in bad weather.

Agreed, but still something Im curious about.

Also curious if you could sit down on your ass and roll over to self arrest.  Since glissading with skis on your back seems to not work at all, maybe it'd stop you before you got started lol.  Not counting on it though.

I don't put much confidence in self arrest with or without skis on my back for the record. My goal is not to fall in the first place.

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17 hours ago, jon said:On 11/5/2018 at 9:37 AM, natedogg said:

When booting/cramponing up a firm pitch of snow with your skis a-framed to your pack, and carrying an Ice Axe, do the skis make self arrest harder? If you fall onto your back will you even be able to roll over to self arrest? Would the brakes and edges dig in stopping you? Would they catch and just spin you around? Would diagonal carry be safer? Would horizontal carry (under brain of pack) make rolling over impossible?

Yes it would be more difficult to roll over into self arrest with skis on your pack in any configuration. You could probably attempt this at home on the living room floor.  

If you find yourself in any situation where arresting a fall would be beyond your skillset, you should rethink your route, setup a belay or turn around.

Edited by Bronco
I'm a dummy.

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If the snow is soft you're gonna stop no matter what, and if it's hard you might break your skis practicing. So use some garbage skis to practice.

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2 minutes ago, G-spotter said:

and if it's hard you might break your skis practicing.

or tear your pack apart!  Wear a helmet, that's for sure.

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Might be better to not blow it on steep snow, regardless of what's on your back. You're talking about playing a zero sum game. In all my time climbing couloirs and snow, with and without skis on my back, I have not fallen. Steep snow is pretty dang easy to climb, especially in ski boots with crampons. Don't break yourself or your gear. Learn how to walk. If it's fucked up enough that you could fall you can be sure you won't be able to self arrest.

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1 hour ago, keenwesh said:

If it's fucked up enough that you could fall you can be sure you won't be able to self arrest.

Ha!  So true.  Downclimbing the couloir and dealing with the runnels on Nooksack Tower comes to mind.  At some point I broke and demanded that we burn all the pickets we had to rap it.

"What if someone falls into a crevasse, on the slog back to camp?"

"At this rate we won't survive to slog back to camp!"

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On 11/5/2018 at 9:14 PM, JasonG said:

Agreed, if it is that sketchy to climb up typically you bail because it would be even worse to ski!

Except when one is climbing up one route and descending another route which I have done many times.

For the OP, while I have never tried or had to self arrest with skis on my back my immediate thought is that if you are lucky enough to fall and be in a self arrest position that the tips of the skis are likely going to impede one from getting in a full arresting position.

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It's much easier to just set up your pack to carry skis skimo style. Then one only has to worry about banging the tails on rocks when traversing in one direction, not two.  Also , much quicker to attach/detach the skis to your pack without removing it. Safer on exposed terrain, say, after a rappel into a couloir.

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