Stranded In The Southland

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

More Snow Travel Classes

I headed up the Owens Valley to Convict Lake this weekend to learn how to use an ice axe and crampons. Sierra Mountaineering International was offering a discounted course to WTC folks.

I really grooved on playing with some new gear -- the ice axe stuff was particularly cool, as I suspect it'd be hard to learn it on my own. We learned self-arrest -- that is, how to stop a slide down a steep slope. I definitely needed a bit of coaching to get this right, and appreciated that portion of the class.

Dealing with crampons turned out to be fairly easy. Roped travel was fun, but again, not too complex. Snow anchors were very fun -- these are necessary when you need a little extra security on snow -- you clip in and can have a companion belay you.

The snow anchors segued smoothly into crevasse rescue. This was the complex bit -- it was all about figuring out how to pull a buddy up out of a gracial crevasse if they fall in. It involved pullys and all manner of fun gear, but I'm not sure how useful it will really be.

I think I'd've preferred it if we'd learned avalanche skills. C'est la vie -- it was fun to be up there, and I was happy to learn the new skills.

I was satisfied with the quality of instruction, which was good. It really made me appreciate the WTC instructors, though, since they were just as good, and did it all for no pay. You gotta respect that!