Snow and Ice Training
Written by Kevin Kearn
RMRU members conducted Low Angle Snow & Ice Training Saturday, 4 February, 2017 about one quarter mile from the upper Tram station at Grubbs Notch (8,300’). Weather conditions were clear and sunny with freezing temps in the morning giving way to rising temperatures in midmorning.
Cameron Instructing Ice Axe
Tony Cutting Steps
In the early morning, the team took advantage of the crusty, iced-over snow to initially practice travelling on low angled slopes with crampons and ice axe. After training on traversing slopes, we practiced straight up ascending and descending as well using French Technique and Front Pointing (AKA German Technique). Soon after, we trained to cut steps properly with an ice axe – perfecting speed and efficiency.
Eric Digging In
Kevin Coming to a Stop
Cameron Flying Head First
Michael Feet First
Just as temps started to rise, we set up an anchor and belay system at the top of a long slope. Individual team members each took a turn executing a series of self-arrests with their personal ice-axes after removing their crampons for safety. Individual drills involved falling/diving forward and then backwards into a tumble down the slope and then maneuvering their body and ice-axe to stop themselves. We practiced these self-arrests repeatedly until everyone was proficient. The ability to self-arrest quickly and safely is one of the most essential, individual winter-mountaineering skills that the team requires of all its rescuers.
Boot Axe Belay
Snow Anchor Practice
Finishing up individual training, we practiced boot-axe belays and then team members all set up and tested snow anchors (dead men). Like any disciplined professional organization, team mates critically evaluated each other’s work and checked these anchors as we transitioned to set up a twin tension system to lower and raise our plastic litter as a collective team. We fully executed a training scenario just as we normally would. We took today’s opportunity to also train people in roles they had never practiced before.
Gary and Michael Testing Anchors
Getting Toboggan Ready
Avalanche Test Pit Shows Layer that could Slide
Snow Anchors with Team Members
RMRU Members Involved: Cameron Dickinson, Gary Farris, Michael George, Eric Holden, Tony Hughes, Matt Jordon, and Kevin Kearn.