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Old 03-19-2014, 08:50 PM   #1
leptons
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A safe icy slope for mountaineering practices?

Hi everyone, I am an avid hiker trying to pick up some winter hiking/mountaineering skills. Recently I've gotten some mountaineering gears from a friend (you know, ice axe, crampons and what not), and am hoping to find a decent hike to practice using them, and the ADKs seem like a good place.

From what I've reserached, I've found some good places like Trap Dike and Gothics North Face, but those seem to be geared more toward technical ice climbing (and I don't think I should go there without experiences).

I also know that in the adk there are rules regarding wearing snowshoes when the snow is deep. I don't have snowshoes and am hoping to find a decently slopy trail that isn't used for snowshoing to practice using crampons and self-arrests. (I don't want to ruin anyone else's snowshoeing trail and the snow seems generally seems pretty deep right now)

Does any of you have a good recommendation? I plan on car camping and doing a 2-3 days long weekend thing this weekend or the next few weekends.

Thanks for the help! I apologize if this question has been addressed before but I couldn't find much info on it.
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Old 03-19-2014, 10:30 PM   #2
rdl
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I would suggest looking into the ADK winter mountaineering school. They provide good instruction on the use of crampons/ice axe and also hands on use of same equipment on varied terrain.
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Old 03-19-2014, 11:43 PM   #3
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I would suggest looking into the ADK winter mountaineering school. They provide good instruction on the use of crampons/ice axe and also hands on use of same equipment on varied terrain.
What this guy said.

You are getting into serious stuff. Don't want a DIY attitude, get some training.
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Old 03-20-2014, 04:26 PM   #4
leptons
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I would suggest looking into the ADK winter mountaineering school. They provide good instruction on the use of crampons/ice axe and also hands on use of same equipment on varied terrain.
Thanks for the recommendation. I did indeed look into it, and it is quite a bit of money and they require double plastic boots (plus snowshoes that I don't have -- and quite a bit more gear). I also only have a narrow window of free time this month and next month...

Maybe I'm not specific enough for the request for recommendation... what I want to do is to get a feel of what I'm getting into before dumping more cash and time into it. Someone mentioned black mountain in the catskill to me and I just want a safe icy hike with some gentle slope to test out crampons and self-arrest skills, and get a feel of what it feels like before going full on.

I know it's not a good idea to just go up some dangerous slope without experience, that's why I want to find a nice icy trail on adk to test things out. I have experience backpacking through snowfields in the northwest but did not go further due to lack of mountaineering skills. My friend from Seattle did a lot of mountaineering and can help me out, but he doesn't know what good places are around NY either (the white mountains are a little far).

Again, thanks for the help.
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Old 03-20-2014, 05:22 PM   #5
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There are a lot of places to practice basic crampon and ice axe skills close to the ground. Around and near the bases of any of the popular ice climbing areas will often have icy areas and low angle icy slopes close to the roadside. Around the base of the Chapel Pond slab (keep an ear open for icefall); in Cascade Pass near the bases of the Pitchoff climbs; and up the Mountain Lane to the north side of Pitchoff are examples of places.

>In any of these places, wear a helmet, even though you are just walking around at the base. These are popular climbing areas, and it's late in the season, so icefall can happen at any time.

>If folks are there to climb, they will not want to climb with you under them, so please give climbers priority in these climbing areas.

The one skill for which it is harder to get to a place to practice is self arrest. To practice self arrest you ideally want a long, moderately steep open snow slope (not hard water ice), with nothing to hit, and either a safe flat runout at the bottom or a belay. That set up exists at the bases of some of the slides, but it's hard to find without a really long walk (like miles). The ideal place to practice self arrest is at a closed ski area; during the season when the locals hike up and ski down, after lift operations have ceased for the year. Not sure where you are traveling from, but you might have a resource like that close to you...
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Old 03-20-2014, 06:20 PM   #6
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Definitely agreed that ADK winter mountaineering school is not cheap. I signed up for the weekend long/day trip session a few years ago and they did not require plastic boots for that, I also was able to slide in without a couple of their other requirements on equipment. Probably that was due to signing up for the day trip session rather than the winter camping session.

We spent the first morning at the Olympic ski jump center which provided a consistent slope and consistent icy/snowy surface to practice on. The most important thing I learned in regard to self arrest was how not to skewer myself. There definitely is a very pointy end to an ice axe and used improperly when sliding down a slope can be dangerous. We practiced self arrest in multiple situations including feet first on your stomach, feet first on your back and head first on both stomach and back as well. It's really invaluable to practice like that if you plan to climb anything in the winter. We also practiced traversing across a slope using crampons and ice axe, which may sound simple but there is definitely a technique to it.

Good luck trying to find a good place to practice, the suggestion of a closed downhill ski center probably is your best bet.
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