Self arrest was the main reason I took this beginning level mountaineering class with Eastern Mountain Sports. The class was right at my level as we three students and the instructor started off with various crampon techniques at Frankenstein Cliffs in Crawford Notch. The techniques started where I left off at the AMC winter school this year.
We climbed a moderately steep sheet of ice, roped, first with a hiking ice axe. Next we climbed a small vertical waterfall with ice climbing axes – really thrilling! The third, short climb took us back to the first ice area where the instructor demonstrated that “it’s all about the feet” and that the ice axe really isn’t necessary and is actually likely a hindrance. That was true for me. I found it much easier to climb that ice concentrating on my foot placement and leaning my body into the ice with hands on the ice as you might place your hands in rock climbing.
At the end of the day we learned and practiced self arrest using the hiking style ice axe in all four falling positions: feet first downhill on stomach, feet first downhill on back, head first on stomach, head first on back.
Experienced Climbers at Frankenstein Cliffs
Practice on Ice with and without Ice Axe