Careening down the glacier-covered slopes of Mount Baker: it’s a dramatic opening. In Abby Sussman’s summer-issue story “A Different View,” she writes of lessons learned and new-perspectives gained on her ascent of one of Washington’s highest peaks. While self-arresting—stopping yourself from sliding if you fall in snow—isn’t the crux of her story, we thought some more info on that subject could add some service to her awesome essay.
Remember these tips, practice, and enjoy a clip from the British Mountaineering Council that gives some good advice about self-arrest technique and remember these tips for extra efficiency and safety:
- Practice. There are 7 or 8 common positions that you might hit the ice. If all of your self-arrest practice focused on a feet-first, stomach-down falling position, you’ll be less prepared for a head-first, back-up fall.
- Assess the snow conditions in your practice area. Avalanche danger, trees or other potential snags, and the safety and angle of your fall-zone’s runout are all important safety considerations. Don’t get hurt during practice!
- Putting weight onto the head of the ax and forcing it into the snow is what will help you stop falling. Remember your body positioning—arching your back, staying high in relation to the ax, putting weight into your knees, and lifting your feet—which help shift weight onto the ax and stop you more quickly.
- Always practice with other people. In addition to providing feedback about your technique, they can help respond to any unexpected injuries or condition changes. Plus: it’ll be more fun!