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[pct-l] Re; toe jams, ice ax, and making equipment

Thanks,Brigitte for all the input, as always, I find your information very
comprehensive and helpful.

Do you know where the aluminum ice axes that you mentioned, especailly the
Cassin, can be mailordered.( and if not mailorder, bought). I have 4 ice
axes already, of different lengths, and have taught ice-ax self arrest and
climbing for the Seattle Mountaineers, so I have some idea of the
limitations of a the all aluminum ice ax.  It really is only a class1-2 ice
ax if that, class 3 for solo climbing.  If I am alone, or with others
without a rope, and therefore not belaying; I can't think of  any
circumstances where an all aluminum ice ax would not be adequate (maybe
cutting steps in ice or hard snow where there is a lot of rock debris which
would really do a number on the adze, but you could still do it in an
emergency.  Just wouldn't have a very nice adze afterward).  As far as not
having an adequate ice ax for a boot-ax belay, I have used a bollard  in a
pinch in a number of situations (lowering down a bergschrund to the lower
lip of a crevasse, lowering off a cornice - where you couldn't retrieve you
protection anyway, and the last person still has some protection on the
bollard).  Bollards are just very time consuming to make, not always
possible in really soft snow, and out of fashion these days.  You also
really need enough experience with them , to do it safely. It is always
nice as a backup to be able to self rescue without having to have a lot of
equipment.  My experience is that a lot of people don't have the experience
to know that they are in trouble, until it is too late.  Or they don't have
an adquate self-arrest.  By the time I had done 12 of the 57 peaks that I
did this summer,I had been on two separate trips where a person was injured
because they failed to self arrest(a broken ankle, a dislocated shoulder
which we were unable to reduce). I consider both persons to be lucky (a
rock helmet saved one from major head trauma when he plunged head first
into some rocks, the other  was stopped by heather  just short of steeper
terrain.).  Both persons had received good instruction in ice-ax arrest. 
Having an ice ax in hand can just be a false sense of security.

In my dealings with the Sierras over many years, I have noticed that in a
normal year in June, the snow hardens when the sun goes down or gets low on
the horizon (usually about 5 o'clock), and it doesn't soften until about 10
o'clock the next morning, much later on steep North slopes.  During this
time, you have to use crampons.  I usually solved the problem by just
waiting for the snow to soften, or organizing the camps so that I would
arrive at the snowfield at the appropriate time.  these options are limited
for thruhikers if they are covering much ground, and starting early,
finishing late.  Do most thruhikers carry crampons, or are the stretches
between passes and snowfields in 20 mile quotients - like stoplights in

Funny you should mention the sandals, this has been on my mind for quite a
while. The normal Tevas  weigh a ton, others sandals are too flimsy to do
the job.  I used to hike sometimes in the light flop-flops with the thong
through the toe, but they don't hold up very long on rocky surfaces. I am
looking for something that is light, will dry fast, can be used for wading
creeks, has enough sole to hold up for a couple of months, and that I can
use to relieve my feet for short periods on the trail. I have worked with
leather and made sandals and rowing shoes, so that I am not totally green. 
At present I am thinking about taking a light vibram sole, using barge
cement to anchor a top of thin leather with the straps attached, and then
just using my insole to cushion the raised straps and to give more support
to the foot. possibly, cinching the top down with cobblers tacks. I can't
find a source for vibram soles.  Is your design priveleged, patent pending?

Toe Jams, Charlie thorpe:  be careful about tractioning the joint too long
or too much, I probably only do it 30 seconds at a time at the most, and I
do it only in order to work the  joint through a range of motion. It should
not take a lot of strength, simply a constant even pressure.  And I don't
repeat the range of motion exercise for more than a total of about 5
minutes.  Tendons once stretched , do not shrink back, so that caution is
called for here.  My years of martial arts training also taught me this: if
a joint is sore, distressed, or injured, it may be so because of
limitations of the joints on either side of it.  The toe jam and toe joint
problem may be aggravated by a lack of flexibility in your ankle.  See
Flash Training (rock climbing), by Eric Horst, I think it is on the web. He
talks about strength training for ankles: support the calf , like kicked
back on a recliner; and then using your ankle, draw the alphabet A-Z. My
experience is that it is as much a stretching exercise as a strengthening
one.  It is important to do both.  There are a lot of would be yogis out
there who thought they could just stretch themselves right into a lotus
pose without doing the strengthing stuff too, and they have permanently
injured their knees.

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