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Winter Mountaineering Tips

By Carlo Forte

Here are a few varied and simple tips to make your winter mountaineering go smoothly.

Carrying Ice Axes

Winter Mountaineering Tips

Carry your ice axe down the compression straps at the side of your sac.
This makes it easily accessible without removing your sac and therefore means you are more likely to have it in your hand when you need it.

Bendy Boots and Crampons

Winter Mountaineering Tips

If you find yourself wearing bendy boots with a crampon, threading the crampon strap through the boot laces means that if the crampon does fall off it is less likely to be lost

Putting Crampons On

Sometimes when putting crampons on it can be difficult in soft snow to get something firm to step down on to ensure good boot crampon contact. Stepping onto an ice axe placed on the surface of the snow can make this job easier. Always make sure the bottom of the boot is clear of snow ,ice or mud as this can compromise the good fit that is essential between boot and crampon.

Avoid Slipping

Winter Mountaineering Tips

On many crampon strap systems the strap can slip so that the buckle is mislocated and needs adjusting before use. Often with cold fingers in an icy wind this can become a big problem.
One great solution is to unthread the strap part way and tie an overhand knot as shown, this means the strap will always be the desired length, without adjustment.

Compass Interference

When navigating in winter with a compass ensure the ice axe is kept well away as it will affect the accuracy and could lead to major navigational errors.

Running Repairs

Any equipment failure in winter could be very serious so for that reason it is worth carry ring a few spares, in a wee bag. Some gaffer tape is really useful, light and versatile. A spare strap, which could be used for repairing a damaged crampon is also an invaluable addition to your spares bag.

A few cable ties can also be useful in a similar way. A small multi tool can help with emergency repairs. A small light torch Petzl Tikka (rather than stare batteries) can be very useful in emergencies.


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