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[pct-l] Ice Axe Experience question

In '97 we had been playing tag with a fellow hiker Wanchor for several
days through the high Sierras. At the top of Pinchot Pass, he
mentioned that he had just took his ice axe off his pack for the first
time climbing the pass. The following day my hiking partner Mike and I 
met Wanchor going up Mather Pass. We got to the top first and watched
as he made it up the snow field. When he was within about 20 yards of
the top, he slipped and took a tumble down the snow. A few anxious 
seconds later, he self-arrested with his ice axe 2/3 of the way down
the snow field. Without the ice axe, he would hit the rocks below. 

I've noticed a tendency in myself and other hikers to be just plain 
too lazy to unstrap an ice ax and use it. My trick was to put it on
my pack in a way that was possible to get to without removing my pack
but impossible to return without taking off my pack. Then my laziness
worked in my favor. It was trivial to pull the ice axe out, so I
usually did. It required a little effort to put it back so I was less
tempted to put it back in those marginal areas.


Karl "Birdman" Brandt PCT97 LT98

On Sun, 19 Sep 2004, Joe Percival wrote:

> PCT Thru-hikers,
> I am trying to decide on Ice Axe or light weight crampons for next year's
> PCT.
> I have read many stories and trail journals where hikers fell going up or
> down a snowy pass with their Ice Axe safely strapped to their pack.  I do
> not recall hearing where the Ice Axe was actually out and used for self
> arrest while thru-hiking the PCT.
> If you have used your ice axe for self arrest while hiking the PCT or know
> of someone who has, could you share your experience please?
> Thanks,
> joe
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