Aug 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm #1278277
What do you guys think of using a mid-sized fixed blade knife for self-arrest rather than an ice axe? I am going into an area where the need for self-arrest is minimal, but potential.
I figure that for areas where a slip looks possible, I will attach the knife using a wrist cord.
AndrewAug 19, 2011 at 1:46 pm #1771184
I'm no expert, but I'd think that would be a VERY bad idea.
Seems that it would be ripped out of your hand if you tried to stop yourself with it. The good thing about an ice axe is you can grab it in two spots, hold it against (under) your body, jam it in, and hope it stops you. The rigid 90 degree angle is made of the pick and the shaft, not your hand trying to hold a knife.
And he last thing you want when sliding (or tumbling) out of control would be a knife attached to your wrist by a lanyard. Yikes!Aug 19, 2011 at 1:53 pm #1771188
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
I would say that it is a fairly bad idea.
–B.G.–Aug 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm #1771204
@owareLocale: Steptoe Butte
Better off with a sturdy walking stick and use a ski pole arrest.
Oh, and practice til you know it will work.Aug 19, 2011 at 3:34 pm #1771212
Art …BPL Member
I agree a knife strapped to your wrist may be a bad idea.
however, improvising sort of depends on the angle of the slope you're on and how icey it is.
I have grabbed a couple pointy rocks on occassion when traversing hard pack snow around 30-35*.
Anything that can slow you down will help.Aug 19, 2011 at 3:35 pm #1771213
@sschloss1Locale: New England
I had to self-arrest a few years ago. Everything happened VERY fast, and with snow flying in my face, I ended up digging the adze into the snow instead of the pick. Thankfully, I didn't get hurt.
Now imagine what would've happened if I was carrying a knife instead of an ice axe.Aug 19, 2011 at 3:39 pm #1771215
@dirtbagclimberLocale: Pacific Northwest
I think it's a very bad idea. I don't think you will be able to stop yourself, and more than likely you will cut yourself to pieces trying.
And honestly that aluminum ice axe that CAMP makes doesn't weigh much more than most fixed-blade knives.
Do you know how to self-arrest with just your hands and feet? If you do it works quite well in softer snow conditions, often better than an ice-axe. You can also self-arrest with a hiking pole.
Often on borderline terrain I prefer to hike with poles and not fall, knowing I can stop myself with my hands and feet if it's soft or the poll tip if it's a bit hard. Although it is best to be sure you won't fall.
There are many applicable skills, and the key to all of them has already been mentioned. Practice somewhere safe until you are sure it will work. That is particularly they key to not falling.Aug 19, 2011 at 4:02 pm #1771219
The people have spoken. :)
Thank you all.Aug 19, 2011 at 4:06 pm #1771221
Eric LundquistBPL Member
@cobbermanLocale: Northern Colorado
I concur that this is likely to result in an injury that could be more life threatening than not being able to self-arrest.
On a side note. What kinds of groups/stores/etc. offer training in self-arrest practices?Aug 19, 2011 at 8:25 pm #1771272
"What kinds of groups/stores/etc. offer training in self-arrest practices?"
In So Cal, Mt Baldy, Icehouse Canyon, during the winter time snow/ice season, I often see the Korean Alpine Club http://www.koreanalpineclub.com/ practicing the self-arrest techniques about 2 miles into the canyon.
Having said that, I am not particularly endorsing that club, I am not a member or Korean. They do seem extremely polite and courteous on the trails. They also do seem to be equipped with everything brand new available at the sporting goods store. Only downside is that club has a huge attendance, and they show up in big buses, again, to be courteous to the parking situation at the trailhead. But the volume of people is overwhelming.
I actually check THEIR schedule, so I don't go on the same days as them.
I like a little solitude, and 300 people in one group is a bit.Aug 19, 2011 at 8:37 pm #1771279
drowning in spamMember
Since you're in the eastern Sierras, you could attend a class with Ned of Mountain Education.Aug 19, 2011 at 8:44 pm #1771281
As others have said, its a very dangerous idea. Unless you have superhuman strength, it's going to be really hard to stop an all out fall with anything held in a single hand. If you are not wanting to carry an ice ax you might consider carrying something like a hand held trowl. This would let you create steps in the snow and make a mini-anchor which would buy you time to rest and re-cooperate on steeper climbs. I'd focus on gear and skills which would help prevent the fall rather than mitigate it. Cheers.Aug 19, 2011 at 10:07 pm #1771311
Justin BakerBPL Member
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
You would be better off trying to improvise something out of a tree limb, if a situation presents itself. A wire saw could help you cut it to shape.Aug 20, 2011 at 7:19 am #1771352
Greg MihalikBPL Member
Hold the knife with two hands.
Hook it over the banister of a porch three stories above the sidewalk.
Lower yourself until you are hanging from it.
Do a couple of pull ups. Repeat several times a day.
You should be read to go…..
[BTW – this is an example of sick sarcastic humor.]Aug 20, 2011 at 8:40 am #1771371
Ken T.BPL Member
Maybe really long fingernails might be more effective.Aug 20, 2011 at 9:57 am #1771388
Ken HelwigBPL Member
@kennyhel77Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Very bad idea….very bad. Take an axe and please learn to use it. Practice before you leave on the trip. Slide upside down, head first, feet first. Practice any type of position you might be in while slipping, and then practice again. ICE AXEAug 21, 2011 at 12:24 am #1771545
if the terrain calls for ice gear – then there is no substitute or shortcuts.
The high end brands have decent lightweight ice axes, and typically, you can leave one hiking pole at home, and use the ice axe instead. roughly the weight delta is negligeable.
assuming you misjudged the terrain, have no ice axe, and you need to self-arrest while sliding to your demise, here are some things you can try:
1) fan out your arms and legs in an X pattern, increase friction surface, slows down your slippage, think the opposite body shape of a bullet or a luge.
2) if you are face down or stomach down, then try to dig your boot tips in the snow, and to some extent, dig in your hands (hope you are also wearing gloves)
3) if you are on your back, try to bend your knees and dig in your heels
4) if you are sliding downhill and head first, try to switch so your head is higher than your feet, because if you bump a rock with your foot, its ok, but a head bump could knock you out.
5) if 1 thru 4 fail, yell out loud "I should have listened to the BPL guuuuuuys"Aug 21, 2011 at 9:04 pm #1771796
And the people have spoken some more :)
I thank you again.
(that'll teach me for posting a dodgy, I'll-considered idea to this group!)Aug 22, 2011 at 9:58 pm #1772109
There is no shame in asking the community hypothetical questions.
Better to ask and benefit from the free feedback, rather than re-invent the wheel on your own or get in trouble.
Then again, we sometimes have crazy ridiculous ideas proposed, that turn out to be genius with a little brainstorming and building upon each others suggestions.
So… Kudos to you for being inquisitive.Aug 23, 2011 at 12:51 am #1772126
No worries, Rodney.
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