a thoughtful web.
Share good ideas and conversation.   Login or Take a Tour!
comment by WanderingEng
WanderingEng  ·  1090 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: How to Kill / NOT Kill Yourself Snowshoeing

Yes! Summit of Gothics Mountain:

I have, so far, not killed myself snowshoeing. Gothics was probably my closest when I fell in some deep snow on the summit. I also slid into a tree on Big Slide (I was sliding intentionally but got out of control).

Reading these articles a bit, I'm also reminded of a short but steep section going up Wright/Algonquin. I fell down it two times while descending on snowshoes. It was exactly this:

    In fact, for some snowshoes that have teeth that are slightly angled, the downhill orientation interferes with getting a grip and can cause the snowshoe to lose traction.

The third time, I went down it backwards and did not fall.

    Snowshoes are designed for travel on flat terrain, do not let the cleats and teeth present on almost all modern snowshoes fool you.

I had someone tell me "MSRs are almost like big crampons!" No, they are not. I have crampons. I've crawled up icy slabs in both my MSRs and my crampons. One is one slip away from sliding back down while the other feels as stable as walking on a dry sidewalk.

Watching the weather is important. If there's a bunch of fresh snow, I'll leave my crampons behind to save weight. But if it hasn't snowed in a few days, and especially if it's been slightly warm on well traveled trails, I'll take snowshoes, Hillsound Trail Crampons (I've used Kahtoola Microspikes and prefer the Hillsounds), and strap crampons. I figure if the extra weight is the difference between making my summit and not, I shouldn't have been there in the first place. After my uncontrolled slide on Big Slide, I also bought an ice axe. I'm no pro with the ice axe, but I can definitely slow and stop myself. It's nothing like what one sees in a movie, but it keeps me safer. It also looks bad ass strapped to my backpack.

The other thing is springs can turn to ice. What's a trickle of water running down the trail in the summer is a sheet of ice that snow doesn't stick to in the winter.

On good snowy terrain, I'm wearing snowshoes and using trekking poles. On icy mostly flat terrain, the snowshoes are replaced with the Hillsounds. On something steep and icy, I'll use the crampons with the poles on the way up and one pole and the ice axe on the way down. The only problem is stopping to swap them around.

I use a Deuter backpack designed for snowboards to carry my snowshoes.

I think I've done Giant, Sawteeth, Gothics, Armstrong, Upper Wolf Jaw, Saddleback, Marcy, Algonquin, Wright, Street, Nye, Table Top and Phelps in the High Peaks in snowshoes. Some of those were officially outside winter but still gobs of snow.

troischiens  ·  994 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thanks WanderingEng for the story and for the snowshoeing tips.

I always have my snowshoes along on winter camp outings but so far have never trodden over about two miles at a time on them. I just bring them in case the sky decides to dump a huge load of snow while I am afield.

WanderingEng  ·  993 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You've done winter overnights? All my winter hiking has been day hiking only, but I want to get into winter camping this year. I bought a liquid fuel stove and am looking for the right sale for a winter sleeping bag. I figure I'll need a larger pack, too.

My snowshoe experience is if you're reasonably comfortable hiking, adding snowshoes to the mix isn't a lot more challenging. It can be much slower depending on how much snow is there, but there aren't a lot of new skills to learn.

troischiens  ·  993 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yeah probably if there's enough snow to warrant snowshoes then hiking without them would be even slower. And if the snow is like knee high or more the snowshoes could save you from life-threatening exhaustion, right?

ButterflyEffect  ·  1089 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I have, so far, not killed myself snowshoeing. Gothics was probably my closest when I fell in some deep snow on the summit. I also slid into a tree on Big Slide (I was sliding intentionally but got out of control).

Glissading? If yes, glissading is one of those things I really don't have much intention of doing. Read too many instances of where that goes really wrong, really quick, and after hiking over a section of trail where there was 100% the dead body of a guy who died glissading under snow melt earlier this year, nope nope nope.

    The third time, I went down it backwards and did not fall.

Yep! As long as you have some semblance of balance, that makes a ton of sense! Figured you might be one of a handful of people here with experience in this kind of weather and terrain. Ice axes are super badass, and make an amazing crutch if you're getting tired while crossing a snowfield! You're about the first person I've seen recommend trail crampons over the microspikes, why do you prefer them?

WanderingEng  ·  1089 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I suspect Adirondack glissading barely qualifies. I've seen videos like this one from Mt. Adams, and it's nothing like what I'm doing. I'm sliding maybe 20 feet, 100 feet tops. I feel it's safer as I can't fall; I'm deliberately on the ground to start with. I do give some thought to what's at the bottom. Usually the slide stops because the trail levels out, stopping with no effort. I did have a scare on one of those. I would put a foot down right at the end and use my momentum to stand back up, and I had a weird twinge in my knee. I'm more careful now.

I mostly use my poles as crutches to rest on. Not everyone uses them, but I like them both summer and winter. My axe is on the shorter end to make it easier to fit in my luggage, and for my use the short size works well. It might be too short for more serious mountaineering.

The Hillsound trail crampons have a plate on both the front and the heel. The Kahtoola microspikes are primarily tied by chain links. I think the solid piece feels more stable. The major drawback with both is the lack of toe and heel spikes. They're great on sort of hilly terrain, but when it gets steep they struggle. Lots of people use them exclusively and don't carry full crampons, but I feel it's a safety risk for me. Without heel and toe spikes, natural stepping causes loss of traction. One has to step with their foot flat to the terrain. I think it risks injury but again, many do it. "Hike your own hike," as they say. I'm not judging them, and I hope they aren't judging me for possibly seeming over equipped.

One thing I haven't mentioned: avalanches are rare in the Adirondacks. I have no experience safely traversing places with an avalanche risk. It's one of the points that drew me to New York rather than the Rockies or Cascades.