View Full Version : mountaineering / ice climbing question ?

03-17-2012, 12:28 AM
Hi so in my book the MC is up above 8000' on Mt Aspiring in New Zealand where it's pretty much just ice or rock. She makes a really dumb decision to walk across the top of an ice slope without crampons or an ice axe, so of course she slips and starts sliding to her death.

I'm trying to think of how she could self arrest, and I thought that maybe if she had like a swiss army knife or something and stuck that in, while it wouldn't do too much itself but if it got caught on a rock that was an inch or so below the ice then would that stop her?

03-17-2012, 12:41 AM
I've heard that supposedly by flattening yourself out and not struggling that you maximize surface contact and therefore increase friction to slow your slide. However, there would be a lot of variables to take into account (angle of descent, wind speed, type of clothing, ambient temperature etc.) so I don't know if the guy who told me this, just was lucky and was talking out the wrong end, or if it's a general rule.

Drachen Jager
03-17-2012, 01:05 AM
That's the same advice I've heard GeorgeK, either it's true or it's a pervasive myth.

03-17-2012, 04:46 AM
I think it's true but only in cases where you weren't sliding fast in the first place (or the slope angle was gentle) so it wouldn't work for me. The standard method is to stick your ice axe in, which is why I'm hoping the knife idea works. (the same knife comes up much later in the book so if I can use it here it would be really cool)

03-17-2012, 06:07 AM
Let's see if I've got your scenario straight. Idiot leaves ice ax behind. Idiot starts sliding, with nothing to stop her. Idiot realizes this slide will take her to her death. Idiot figures the only thing that might save her is jamming her knife in ice and hoping like hell it works. Considering she's an idiot, it probably will. Despite Darwin, too many idiots get lucky.

It's plausible, and about as good an answer as anyone is going to come up with in this situation. It's probably worked for some people, and probably didn't for a few others. I'd try the increasing friction approach first, and when that doesn't work, the jam the knife method.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe