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By Nick Stayner
From Billings, MT
Oct 23, 2012
Nick Stayner near the crux. Ryan Minton photo.

superkick wrote:
I do find it funny that he asked about climbing/mountaineering and half of the responses are about touring/back-country skiing. reading comprehension fail.


Why is it funny? I assume this guy is talking about mountaineering in the lower 48, which obviously puts him in a wide array of avalanche terrain even if he's just climbing and not skiing.


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By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Oct 23, 2012
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3

because he wasnt asking about skiing...


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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Oct 23, 2012
Bocan

superkick wrote:
because he wasnt asking about skiing...


Six of one, half dozen of another. Avalanche terrain is avy terrain. You still need to approach the climb and all the same rules will still apply.


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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Oct 23, 2012
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background

Nick Stayner wrote:
Why is it funny? I assume this guy is talking about mountaineering in the lower 48, which obviously puts him in a wide array of avalanche terrain even if he's just climbing and not skiing.

It's interesting (funny?) because the vast majority of climbing trips I have been on over nearly the last 20 years, guided or un-guided, in CO, CA, WA, AK, or Peru, I have rarely seen climbers fully equipped to deal with avalanches. i.e. they were not wearing beacons and almost never was everyone in the party carrying a shovel and/or probes. More often than not climbers were, at best, carrying a shovel or two for the whole group. So the reality as I have seen it is that climbers do, in fact, behave differently than skiers or ski mountaineers, who seems to better follow the advice in this thread and all carry avalanche equipment.


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By Rick Blair
From Denver
Oct 23, 2012
This is a novel auto blocking belay device.  I think it works quite well, depending on rope thickness and sheath quality, it belays very smooth.  Great to lower with.  You gotta love over engineering.  $3 at a gear swap!

csproul wrote:
So the reality as I have seen it is that climbers do, in fact, behave differently than skiers or ski mountaineers,


Don't leave out couch potatoes. They do tally roof avalanches as well. Best way to deal with that is to pay someone else to shovel your property.


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By Nick Stayner
From Billings, MT
Oct 23, 2012
Nick Stayner near the crux. Ryan Minton photo.

Scott McMahon wrote:
Six of one, half dozen of another. Avalanche terrain is avy terrain.


I guess what's funny is that superkick doesn't seem to get this.

superkick wrote:
reading comprehension fail.


Exactly!


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By Nick Stayner
From Billings, MT
Oct 23, 2012
Nick Stayner near the crux. Ryan Minton photo.

csproul wrote:
I have rarely seen climbers fully equipped to deal with avalanches.


I agree. I'd say (as would you, I think) backcountry skiing/ski mountaineering is a much better standard to use in informing yourself about managing avalanche terrain.

Still don't see how nitpicking irrelevant details and derailing a thread doing its best to inform someone clearly in need is funny though.


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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Oct 23, 2012
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background

Nick Stayner wrote:
I agree. I'd say (as would you, I think) backcountry skiing/ski mountaineering is a much better standard to use in informing yourself about managing avalanche terrain. Still don't see how nitpicking irrelevant details and derailing a thread doing its best to inform someone clearly in need is funny though.

I do agree that skiers probably set a better example. However, the reality is that you will never see every climber taking a shovel up Denali, Baker, Rainier, or any of the other average mountaineering objectives with avalanche danger.


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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Oct 23, 2012
Bocan

csproul wrote:
It's interesting (funny?) because the vast majority of climbing trips I have been on over nearly the last 20 years, guided or un-guided, in CO, CA, WA, AK, or Peru, I have rarely seen climbers fully equipped to deal with avalanches. i.e. they were not wearing beacons and almost never was everyone in the party carrying a shovel and/or probes. More often than not climbers were, at best, carrying a shovel or two for the whole group. So the reality as I have seen it is that climbers do, in fact, behave differently than skiers or ski mountaineers, who seems to better follow the advice in this thread and all carry avalanche equipment.


I would imagine climbers mentally catagorize themselves in a different user class, but ironically they are the 3rd highest fatality group (specifics aside). Like I said though avy terrain is avy terrain and traveling without proper gear and education is always a risk.


avalanche.state.co.us/acc/acc_images/Slide4.JPG


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By Rick Blair
From Denver
Oct 23, 2012
This is a novel auto blocking belay device.  I think it works quite well, depending on rope thickness and sheath quality, it belays very smooth.  Great to lower with.  You gotta love over engineering.  $3 at a gear swap!

Nick Stayner wrote:
Still don't see how nitpicking irrelevant details and derailing a thread doing its best to inform someone clearly in need is funny though.


Go here

avalanche.state.co.us/acc/acc_us.php

and search for "roof" on the page. I kid you not.


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By ObviousTroll
Oct 23, 2012

Well thanks for playing everybody, but I finally got my answer

superkick wrote:
I do find it funny that he asked about climbing/mountaineering and half of the responses are about touring/back-country skiing. reading comprehension fail. Doligio is pretty spot on though.



doligo wrote:
In climbing, you either stay home when avy conditions are elevated, seek safer climbs, or climb very early in a day or very late. You don't want to slow yourself down by carrying avy gear on climbs and thus putting yourself in danger. Climb very early in the season or very late. Seek advice from locals. Travel fast. Normally in mountaineering, routes follow ridges that are generally have low avalanche danger.


Yes it was a reading comprehension fail, I was specifically asking about mountaineering and transitioning from hiking. Not transitioning from skiing slopes at the lodge to back country skiing. The reason I asked this originally was because I was trying to decide if I should buy a shovel for myself. Logic being:

If I need a shovel does everyone else in my party need a shovel? If everyone else needs a shovel then I won't buy one, because the group of friends I'm learning with don't have shovels. If they don't have shovels and we all need shovels then we shouldn't go.

I know this leaves an open book with a bunch of heated questions from you all, but let me assure you, my safety is paramount at all times and I am not planning some trip into possible avalanche terrain. I was just simply curious about climbers and shovels.

:)


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By Nick Stayner
From Billings, MT
Oct 24, 2012
Nick Stayner near the crux. Ryan Minton photo.

Glad you think your question was answered. Good luck and be safe out there! Here's to hoping you get yourself an avalanche education of some sort.


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By John D
Oct 24, 2012

It depends, but if I'm going hiking/climbing in winter and I plan on spending the night, I take a shovel. If I'm not planning on spending the night, I usually don't take a shovel. I think the best way to stay safe is to stay out of avalanche paths and off slopes that can avalanche. I tend to stick to ridges in the winter. I also tend to go solo so it's not like there's going to be anybody to dig me out anyway, so the shovel is more for digging a shelter and a pit to check snow conditons.

With a group, like others have said, unless everyone has beacons, probes and shovels, they're not all that useful. On winter trips with groups I don't usually have a shovel for everyone, having several helps make camp go up faster.

The best avalanche advice IMO is if the slope could slide, don't be on it, in a best case scenario if you are caught in a slide, your chances are 50/50 that you'll be killed by trauma before your friends can even start looking for you.


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By Rick Blair
From Denver
Oct 24, 2012
This is a novel auto blocking belay device.  I think it works quite well, depending on rope thickness and sheath quality, it belays very smooth.  Great to lower with.  You gotta love over engineering.  $3 at a gear swap!

doligo wrote:
or climb very early in a day or very late.


Since there is an "or" at this part of the sentence, it is actually horrible advice. Perhaps she meant "and", then it is good advice.


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By dancesatmoonrise
Nov 26, 2012
avatar

Some good pearls buried in this thread. No simile intended.

Andy's point about trying to hand-dig concrete. Dude (OP,) have you ever been at the scene of a run-out? Can't dig that stuff.

"Standard" wisdom, pretty much, is everyone carries beacon, probe, shovel.

That said - another poster made an excellent point about prevention. Whatchagonnado when you're solo? Aron did all the 14ers in winter solo; Steve did something like 50+/59 (all four finishers count N Massive) solo. The shovel is for camp, in that situation. It's 100% prevention, there.

Another great point here is skiing vs. climbing. When you're skiing, you're looking for snow. When you're climbing, you're looking for blown ridges. I'd say you might want to adjust thinking to the particular style and terrain, if weight is a consideration. (If not, I have no idea why the question even comes up.)

Lastly - my personal style, fwiw. (FD: 34 calendar winter 14ers in past three winter seasons.) I do a lot of these solo. F'n alpine is a little loose, in my opinion, coming from a strict dry-rock background (rock since 1977.) But it's the nature of alpine (weight and bulk become critical.) A lot of folks will disagree with my style, but I kind of like 50% shovels in the team. Yes, you could find yourself buried with the shovel on your back and your partner on the surface without - that's the risk. But in this style, you tend to let the guy without the shovel take the risks, and the guy with the shovel go second. Not that it can't avy on the 2nd, 3rd, or 10th cross - But come on, mountaineering is a bit like roulette anyway. Been doing it long? How many partners have you lost? It's the f'n nature of this game. If you want to die in an ICU with a stroke or MI, then mountaineering is not for you. If it is, you're taking risks from the get-go. It's all about risk tolerance and risk management.

So, I guess the best advice anyone can give with this sport is, learn all you can, get careful experience, and pick your poison. And hey, do a few solo. Builds character and wits - which can often be of life-preserving value.

But the short answer, the standard wisdom, really is, all members of the party carry all three tools, and most importantly, know how to use them.

Y bienvenido, y buena suerte, hermanito!


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By ObviousTroll
Nov 29, 2012

dancesatmoonrise wrote:
Some good pearls buried in this thread. No simile intended. Andy's point about trying to hand-dig concrete. Dude (OP,) have you ever been at the scene of a run-out? Can't dig that stuff. "Standard" wisdom, pretty much, is everyone carries beacon, probe, shovel. That said - another poster made an excellent point about prevention. Whatchagonnado when you're solo? Aron did all the 14ers in winter solo; Steve did something like 50+/59 (all four finishers count N Massive) solo. The shovel is for camp, in that situation. It's 100% prevention, there. Another great point here is skiing vs. climbing. When you're skiing, you're looking for snow. When you're climbing, you're looking for blown ridges. I'd say you might want to adjust thinking to the particular style and terrain, if weight is a consideration. (If not, I have no idea why the question even comes up.) Lastly - my personal style, fwiw. (FD: 34 calendar winter 14ers in past three winter seasons.) I do a lot of these solo. F'n alpine is a little loose, in my opinion, coming from a strict dry-rock background (rock since 1977.) But it's the nature of alpine (weight and bulk become critical.) A lot of folks will disagree with my style, but I kind of like 50% shovels in the team. Yes, you could find yourself buried with the shovel on your back and your partner on the surface without - that's the risk. But in this style, you tend to let the guy without the shovel take the risks, and the guy with the shovel go second. Not that it can't avy on the 2nd, 3rd, or 10th cross - But come on, mountaineering is a bit like roulette anyway. Been doing it long? How many partners have you lost? It's the f'n nature of this game. If you want to die in an ICU with a stroke or MI, then mountaineering is not for you. If it is, you're taking risks from the get-go. It's all about risk tolerance and risk management. So, I guess the best advice anyone can give with this sport is, learn all you can, get careful experience, and pick your poison. And hey, do a few solo. Builds character and wits - which can often be of life-preserving value. But the short answer, the standard wisdom, really is, all members of the party carry all three tools, and most importantly, know how to use them. Y bienvenido, y buena suerte, hermanito!


Bro, I need you to deliver a speech like that for me every morning before I go to work.


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