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Snow Travel and Climbing

Options for Roped Team Protection
If the climbing party decides it is safer overall to rope up, there are several different ways to match the type of rope protection to climbing conditions and climbers’ strengths.

“Discover the Magic of Winter: Snow Travel Adventures Await!”

Team Arrest (Roped but Unbelayed)
Team arrest depends on individual climbers to stop their own falls and to provide backup in case someone else falls. Relying on team arrest as the ultimate team security makes sense only in certain situations, such as on a low-or moderate-angle glacier or snow slope. The proficient members of the rope team can save a less-skilled climber from a dangerous slide.
On steeper, harder slopes, the party has to decide which option is safest -continuing to rely on team arrest, using anchors for protection, or unroping and letting each climber go it alone.
To increase the odds that team arrest will work on asnow slope, use the following procedures:

✔ If there are any climbers below you, carry a few feet of slack rope coiled in your hand. If a climber falls, drop the loose rope, which gains you an extra instant before the rope is loaded; this gives you a moment to get the ice ax into self-belay position and to brace yourself before the falling climber’s weight impacts the rope. However, if you carry too much slack, you will increase the distance that your rope mates will slide before you stop them.

✔ Put the weakest climber on the downhill end of the rope. As a rule, the least-skilled climber should be last on the rope while ascending and first on the rope while descending. This puts the climber most likely to fall in a position where a fall will be less serious: below the other climbers, where the impact will be quickly felt along the rope.

✔ Climb on a shortened rope. This technique is best for a two-person rope team. A climbing pair that uses only a portion of the rope reduces the sliding distance and the tug from the fall if one partner falls. To shorten the rope, wind as many coils as necessary until the desired length remains. Then use a loop of the climbing rope to tie an overhand knot through the coils, and clip the loop into your harness with a locking carabiner. Carry the coils over one shoulder and under the opposite arm (fig. Coming soo). If more than two climbers are on the rope, the middle climber or climbers should take coils in the direction of the leader.

✔ Climb in separate parallel tracks. This is also best for a two-person rope team. The climbers are abreast of each other, separated by the rope. A falling climber will pendulum down, putting force on the rope to the side of and below the partner. The tug on the rope will be less than if the climber fell from high above. Also, the friction of the rope as it pendulums across the snow will absorb some of the force. On ascents where kicking two sets of steps would be a waste of time and energy, this style may be impractical, but on ascents of harder snow and on descents, it can be good.

✔ Handle the rope properly. Keep the rope on the downhill side of the team’so that there is less chance of stepping on it. Hold the rope in your downhill hand, in a short loop. You can then take in or let out the rope, adjusting to the pace of the person ahead of you or the person behind you, rather than getting into a tug-of-war.

✔ Observe your rope mates’ pace and position and adjust and prepare accordingly. When the rope goes taut, it may be hung up on the snow, or your rope mates may be in a delicate situation in which any additional tug on the rope/could yank them off their feet.

✔ Yell “Falling!” whenever any climber falls. All rope partners can self-arrest and avoid getting pulled off their feet.

Running Belays
Roped climbers can move together on snow with the help of running belays. This technique saves time over regular belayed climbing but still allows for protection. Running belays, which are also useful in rock climbing, ice climbing, and alpine climbing, are discussed in Chapter 14, Leading on Rock, and Chapter 18, Alpine Ice Climbing.
The running belay offers an intermediate level of protection, somewhere between team arrest and fixed belays. It helps when a successful team arrest is improbable but fixed belays are impractical. For example, running protection may do the job on long snow faces and couloirs.
To place running belays, the leader puts in pieces of snow protection when necessary and uses a carabiner to clip the rope in to each one. (For more information on snow anchors, see the next post.) All members of the rope team continue to climb at the same time, just as in unbelayed travel, except that now there is protection in the snow that will be likely to stop a fall (fig. Above). To pass each running belay point, when the middle dimbers reach an anchor, they unclip the rope that is in front of them from the carabiner attached to the protection, then clip the rope that is behind them to the carabiner. The last climber on the rope removes each piece of protection.

Combination Protection Techniques
Long snow routes usually demand fast travel to reach the summit. Climbers often use a combination of roped and unroped travel, mostly unbelayed. They rely primarily on team arrest or running protection, and some sections of the climb will warrant unroped travel.
Belays are typically used on steeper, harder snow or when climbers are tired or hurt. The option of turning around is always worth considering. The party can select a new route, choose another destination, or just head home.

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Snow Anchors
Snow anchors provide protection and secure rappels and belays. The strength of a snow anchor placement depends on the strength of the snow. The greater the area of snow the anchor pulls against and the firmer the snow, the stronger the anchor. Ultimately, the strength of snow anchors depends greatly on proper placement and snow conditions. Common snow anchors are pickets, deadman anchors, flukes, and bollards.



Snow Fluke

Snow Bollard

Multiple Anch

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