Snow Climbing and Glacier Travel- Field Days!



Dates: April 13-14, 2019
Leader:  Forest Dean
Participants: Brent Maier, Logan DeBoer, Jerry Cintron, Erin Carey, Casey Lammers, Josh Ashton, Joe Hylton

For the second consecutive spring, we put together this weekend practice session to work on all things related to snow climbing and glacier travel.  Two days prior, on Thursday, we held a roundtable session at Big Sky Brewery to discuss these important components of mountaineering.  The session was very well attended with 12 folks showing up.  For this weekend training, I had decided to cap the participants at eight so as to provide for a better experience for everyone there.  Unfortunately had to turn a few other interested individual’s away (stay tuned as we will try to put another one of these field days together soon!)

Last year we held this practice at Snowbowl and was planning to again this year but then they decided to stay open for an extra weekend.  So we moved to Marshall Mountain (thank you Bruce, for the permission) which worked decent with the exception of a lack of quality snow.  The eight of us met on Saturday morning at 8am at the parking area, geared up, then hiked about half way up the main ski run till we got to some snow.  Here we discussed and worked on foot work, ice axe use, running belays, fixed belays, and anchor building.  Next we practiced mock glacier travel by roping up and ascending a couple more hundred feet up the ski run.  With the lack of snow, and soft snow, we weren’t able to work on ice axe self arrest, but we did discuss.

After travelling as a couple rope teams, we found a nice area to work on crevasse rescue.  Although seldom employed, this is a very important skill to ingrain into your mountaineering skillset AND it is always a highlight of a training session such as this.  Setting up and hauling with a Z-Pulley system can be just plain fun to practice!  We spent a couple hours building and then rebuilding these systems.  Practice, practice, practice!

Finally, at the end of the day, we hiked down to the bottom of the ski run and tied a rope up on the base of the ski lift.  Here we practiced ascending a rope (mock crevasse self rescue).  Between 4:30 and 5:00 we called it a day.  Original plan had been to spend two days here, but everyone seemed content with the fact we had covered most of the primary skills in one day.  (Again, watch for refresher offerings in near future!)

Thanks to all seven enthusiastic participants.  It was a fun and rewarding day practicing and learning with everyone as well as making new friends and future climbing partners!

Forest Dean


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