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jerseyscum

Self Arrest Vs Self Bely grasp

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I always hold self-arrest style b/c it's just as "comfortable" (in the sense of like a hot tub or recliner) with my axe head, and it's one less step between slipping and self arresting. I can't think of a good reason for me to hold it the other way.

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Personaly I almost always use the self arrest grip - 'cause if you fall you don't need to think about changing hand position. Self-belay grip is really only for comfort, so if your axe is uncomfortable get some foam pipe wrap and duct tape it to the head. This is more comfortable and also insulates your hand from the cold metal head.

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It's much safer to use the self-arrest grip. If your axe is uncomfortable to use that way, then get a new axe. You can also put padding over the top to make it more comfortable.

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Here's my take on it: if your on steepish hard snow you aren't going to be able to self-arrest anyways, so you're better off plunging the axe as solid as you can. I find this is more comfortable with the self-belay style. Comfort is important since if your hand starts to get sore, your less likely to plunge your axe in real good.

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Rather than put padding on top and make your axe head less functional, just wear some gloves. A long-shafted axe with a big wad of foam on top is the ice axe equivalent of shorts over polypro.

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thread drift to 'nuther qwestion:

 

Most of us learned (or practice) to self arrest on moderate angled snow. As Nathan pointed out above, arresting a fall on steep snow (the only place you really need the skill) is another story.

 

My experience is that the way self arrest is generally taught or shown in vids is ridiculous and unrealistic. The few times I have had to self arrest I had a few inches or maybe a foot at most to stop the fall or I would have hit light speed in about 2 seconds and been completely out of control. I think showing someone sliding tens or hundreds of feet on a hard steep snow slop, and THEN digging in the pick to a stop is not how self arrest should be portrayed. When I have shown people this I tell them that you have about 1 foot to stop or your a gonner.

 

Thoughts or disagreeances?

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It's much safer to use the self-arrest grip.

 

First off, I'd like to see some data on the self arrest grip being safer.

 

Secondly, the self arrest grip (a.k.a. poilet poulet de merde or "chicken shit axe") is a defensive position...meaning that you are expecting to fall and have to arrest. Holding the axe in that position is really only functional for arresting.

 

I use and teach poilet canne (i.e. self belay for some, although this is technically a misnomer as the self belay is poilet manche) since it is an offensive, active position that can readily be transferred into seven or eight positions including poilet panne (low dagger), ancre, poignard (high dagger), traction (steep ice tech), appui, etc. that can be used to secure oneself from falling in the first place. It simply takes practice to switch from poilet canne to the self arrest position while falling. try it sometime.

 

ultimately, don't lose your axe and know how to use it efficiently to climb and arrest in the event of a fall.

Edited by kurthicks

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Holding the axe in [self-arrest] position is...functional for step cutting

 

Pics?

 

misspoke, sorry. corrected.

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8937final.jpg

"Hold it like this, pansies"

 

To make this a meaningful post...

jerseyscum, what's his persuasive argument? Mine is that given the need to self arrest as quickly as possible, I believe it's safer to use self-arrest as the default position because it saves valuable time and prevents the possibility of fumbling around while you're falling. I'm not concerned with being labeled "defensive" since that's usually the point of having an axe in the first place. When I hear of someone traveling without an axe, I've never thought "WHAT??? That guy didn't have an ice axe on that steep slope? How on earth did he think he was going to [insert axe use other than self arrest here]?"

If I'm going to waste a little time changing my grip, I'd rather waste it while attempting some fancy French name technique instead of saving my life.

Edited by ClimbingPanther

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can someone explain the difference between self belay and self arrst grips?

 

When i am on steep snow, and holding my axe, and don't want to fall, I just hold the top of the head, with the pick pointing back. Whether i am plunging it into the snow, stepping, and then repeating it, or merely using it as a wlaking stick type thingy for "just in case I slip."

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I always hold it with the pick and adze parallel to the slope, pick out, adze in except if it's steep and I am daggering in to hard neve or something. You guys are over-analyzing.

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can someone explain the difference between self belay and self arrst grips?

 

When i am on steep snow, and holding my axe, and don't want to fall, I just hold the top of the head, with the pick pointing back. Whether i am plunging it into the snow, stepping, and then repeating it, or merely using it as a wlaking stick type thingy for "just in case I slip."

 

In a self arrest grip the pick is pointing behind you while you walk. The self belay grip is the same, with the pick pointing forward. Personally, I find the self arrest grip more comfortable so I use it in most situations, unless the slope gets quite a bit steeper (like steep enough to use low or high dagger) when I switch to self belay grip.

 

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I'm not concerned with being labeled "defensive" since that's usually the point of having an axe in the first place.

 

The point of having an ice axe is to use it for climbing. Self-arrest is only one of a number of uses for an ice axe. I do believe that you can do more with an axe quickly out of the piolet cane position than from the self-arrest position. Indeed, in some northwest climbing subcultures assumptions of inexperience are made about those who hold their axe in the self-arrest position. Not taking stereotypes into account, I still think that piolet cane is a better position in most circumstances.

 

Unfortunately it takes a lot of practice to develop the muscle memory to automatically self-arrest from piolet cane. This is the main reason that people don't really want to switch...and it's a valid reason. If you screw up because you didn't spend enough time practicing your new technique it could be bad news for you.

 

Jason

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whatever you do you better do it quick! All that shit about a long slide coming to a graceful conclusion using skilful gymnastic moves is mostly wishful thinking, chances are your wearing crampons (snag) and tumbling helplessly down as you black out doing cartwheels until you stop, wake up and notice one of your legs has a new joint in it.

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Dru has boiled it down perfectly. It all comes down to being able to stop yourself (and your team...if applicable), in any position, if things go south. Being able to self arrest from any stance is critical. Getting yanked from behind and ripping downhill, on your back, head-first, and having the skill to arrest quickly is where you want to be. If you can do that with the adze resting comfortably in your palm, you're better than most.

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