Author Topic: Ice Axe & Crampons  (Read 852 times)

photonut

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Ice Axe & Crampons
« on: 22:30:46, 28/12/17 »

A few weeks ago now I posted a thread in the Lakes section about attempting a walk up Skiddaw via Little man. I received quite a few very helpful responses for which I was very appreciative of.  Thankfully April posted a reply in which she updated me about the anticipated weather conditions and also (rather important) how, when she walks at this time of year, always carries an ice axe and crampons.


I was very grateful for this advice because it stopped me driving all the way to Keswick, setting off up the hill only to realise that I was unable to complete it because:


a) I was out of my experience depth because of the weather, and
b) I did not have the right kit to do the job


So I have resisted the temptation to travel up to the Lakes for any walking.  Instead I've stayed in the areas I now know pretty well now, the Dales.


Whilst plodding up Pen-y-Ghent today and encountering small amounts of snow and ice it got me thinking..... should I purchase said items and go on some course (the chaps that provide the info for the Weatherline run courses) on how to use them safely or, should I sit the bad weather out and just stay 'local'??  I'm also aware that going on a course does not provide you with experience but I figure if I start with 'easy' climbs and build my confidence/ experience that way.


My walk today took me from Horton, Pen-y-Ghent, Selside, Sulber and Moughton Scars before returning to Horton which I thoroughly enjoyed.  However, I'd like to make a start on walking further afield but not at the expense of having to call the MRT out!!!


Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions?


Cheers
Lee

beefy

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Re: Ice Axe & Crampons
« Reply #1 on: 23:16:25, 28/12/17 »
You could go on a course, or go out with others who can show you what to do,
We never got to use our crampons and ice axe last year because of the weather conditions (low cloud or rain)
We don't go high when there's low cloud because there's no views,
It's great to get out though when we can, I love the snow
I practiced my self arrest in a safe place, thankfully I did because I had to do it for real a couple of winter's back when I went sliding down a steep slope, it was an automatic reaction and I soon came to a stop, much to the relief of April  ;D
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you know how to use the equipment and go out there and have fun
I was walking towards red tarn a few weeks ago and a group of about 8 guys asked me for directions,
They said they were going to do striding edge, I said it may be covered in snow have you got ice axes and crampons, no they said
Have you got spikes, no they said
They saw me frowning and I made my point hopefully they did the right thing,
It was covered in snow when I got in sight of it, and thick ice
I didn't see them again I hope they were ok :-\
And you will need compatible boots stiff enough to take the crampons BTW
« Last Edit: 23:23:55, 28/12/17 by beefy »

BuzyG

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Re: Ice Axe & Crampons
« Reply #2 on: 00:28:44, 29/12/17 »
Interesting coincidence.  I bought an ice axe and micro spikes for my Scotland trip in April/May 2016.  I carried them, but never used them.  I then took them with me to Snowdon a few weeks back,  left them in the car and wished I had at leased my micro spikes, when we hit the snow line on the Waltkins path up to the summit ridge.  Then finally today I headed up Yes tor  on Dartmoor.  Lovely crisp sunny day and the ground was frozen solid above 400m,  I walked all the way to the top of Yes Tor slipping and sliding a little and being very cautions on the ice covered granite.  Then I popped my micro spikes on for the very first the time.  What a revelation,  the instance surefootedness was a real surprise, as I had got used to the little bit of slip under foot with each step.  I walked about 4 miles on the high moor before descending back bellow the snowline.  All I can say is I will be carrying my micro spikes more often on winter walks from now on.  One day I may even use that Ice Axe.

Skip

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Re: Ice Axe & Crampons
« Reply #3 on: 01:37:17, 29/12/17 »
You'll find lots of useful info about winter walking on the BMC website:
https://www.thebmc.co.uk/winter-climbing-and-walking-skills

Doing a winter skills course is a very good idea.  I spent a day with the Weatherline Felltop Assessors and it was very informative and enjoyable.

Other winter courses are run by National Mountain Sports Centre at Plas Y Brenin (near Capel Curig) and the Outdoor Training Centre, Glenmore Lodge (near Aviemore)
http://www.pyb.co.uk/courses-welsh-winter.php

https://www.glenmorelodge.org.uk/cat-18-Winter%20Mountaineering%20&%20Winter%20Climbing/course-222-intro-winter-skills-2-day/

Regarding Microspikes, although they're adequate in some conditions, they are not a substitute for crampons. BMC advice here:
https://www.thebmc.co.uk/using-micro-crampons-and-mini-spikes-for-winter-hill-walking
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photonut

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Re: Ice Axe & Crampons
« Reply #4 on: 11:33:13, 29/12/17 »
.....I practiced my self arrest in a safe place, thankfully I did because I had to do it for real a couple of winter's back when I went sliding down a steep slope, it was an automatic reaction and I soon came to a stop, much to the relief of April  ;D

Erm..... now that's the scary bit I'd rather not think about.  But at least you knew what to do and did it automatically.

I was walking towards red tarn a few weeks ago and a group of about 8 guys asked me for directions,
They said they were going to do striding edge, I said it may be covered in snow have you got ice axes and crampons, no they said
Have you got spikes, no they said
They saw me frowning and I made my point hopefully they did the right thing,
It was covered in snow when I got in sight of it, and thick ice

Exactly the situation I do not want to be in

And you will need compatible boots stiff enough to take the crampons BTW

I have Salomon Quest 4D 2GTX boots... I don't think they are compatible :(

photonut

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Re: Ice Axe & Crampons
« Reply #5 on: 11:36:38, 29/12/17 »
Interesting coincidence.  I bought an ice axe and micro spikes for my Scotland trip in April/May 2016. 

Thanks for that BuzyG... any recommendations for Ice axe & Crampons?

photonut

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Re: Ice Axe & Crampons
« Reply #6 on: 11:37:22, 29/12/17 »
Skip,

Thank you for your post.  That will make for some useful reading.

Cheers
Lee

Dyffryn Ardudwy

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Re: Ice Axe & Crampons
« Reply #7 on: 12:51:17, 29/12/17 »
Its a shame the two idiots who got caught out on Crib Goch, last weekend, did not have the right equipment.
The mountain was covered in snow and ice, yet according to the rescue service, they were hopelessly under equipped for the conditions, and phoned for help when they became stuck on the slopes of the mountain, unable to ascend, because of the ice covered rock.

Crampons would have been deemed essential for an attempt on a rocky mountain as steep as Crib Goch in the depths of winter , and an ice axe would have been a useful aid as well, but they had no such equipment with them.

The llanberis MRT and rescue helicopter was called out, at considerable expense, just to rescue two walkers who were totally out of their depth.

Crampons should be a vital bit of kit, when ascending Snowdon or mountains in that locality, as ice will always be an issue, particularly when the prevailing weather has been below freezing for the past week.

If you do not have crampons, or the right boots to accept them, then should you really be anywhere near a mountain in the depths of winter.


Most accidents or MR callouts are caused by walkers who are poorly equipped or lack the correct knowledge to use their equipment properly.
« Last Edit: 13:02:47, 29/12/17 by Dyffryn Ardudwy »

BuzyG

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Re: Ice Axe & Crampons
« Reply #8 on: 15:28:21, 29/12/17 »
Thanks for that BuzyG... any recommendations for Ice axe & Crampons?


Bought the Ice axe from Cotswold Outdoors, It's a Grivel Helix. https://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/p/grivel-helix-ice-axe-F1A12132.html  I went into the store and found an assistant who knew what he was talking about.  As mine is for walking it's quite long and not rated for belay use.  After I told him my plans, he even went through and showed my how to hold it for walking and for a simple arrest from a slip. Well beyond what you normally get from a shop assistant.  O0   No substitute for being shown or even practising yourself on some proper safe snow.


The Micro Spikes are.  Hill Sound Trail Crampons.  Bought online.  I have heard and read a few warnings recently about their limitations vs full on crampons.  All I can say, from my limited experience, as a casual winter hill walker, who would not normally take crampons of any description on a walk.  TI found the increased grip and security underfoot quite surprising and reassuring.  Plus they are both simple and quick to fit and remove.

Owen

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Re: Ice Axe & Crampons
« Reply #9 on: 15:58:48, 29/12/17 »
If you decide on full crampons these are very good https://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/p/grivel-g10-new-classic-crampon-F1A32097.html?colour=180 the yellow anti-balling works really well.

snoopdawg

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Re: Ice Axe & Crampons
« Reply #10 on: 20:46:45, 29/12/17 »
Its an interesting call photonut. if you look at my photos from boxing day you will see the walk was in snowy conditions. The snow level on starting was around 1200 feet and was just a dusting getting deeper around 1800 feet and to about 2ft on top of Scafell Pike. I did carry my ice axe as I always do when there is snow but didn't use it as the snow was soft and descents were easy in the soft snow. My crampons I left in the car having read previous weather reports about the disappearance of icy sections and as I consider myself experienced in those conditions and knowledge of the route and its alternatives that I could safely do it without crampons. My point is you can go walking in those areas in snow and not always use the full equipment. I only used my crampons once last year in the Lakes and that was on Swirral Edge. I'm not advocating people going up on the hills without necessary equipment just that they aren't always required.

Have a trip up to The Lakes and have a look at some hills in the Lakes in winter conditions, you will see plenty of options at several levels. For instance you could easily do Fairfield from Ambleside in full winter conditions. I very much doubt an ice axe or crampons would be deployed. Confidence can play a big part. Golden rule, have a plan B or C, turn back if not happy.

I've not done a course, I picked up what I did from my father. The rest is self taught.