Friday, July 28, 2017

Glissading 101

The Basic Rules

It's fun, fast, and efficient way to get down, I can't deny it. However, as the rangers patrol the mountain, we've seen a number of golden rules broken. Some with minimal consequences and others with more severe from lost gear to damaged joints. So here's a few basic rules to follow when you are glissading that can make your descent a safe and fun success.

1. Look at your line. Are you on a glacier right now? Generally a bad idea to be sitting low to the ground, moving fast if you might have crevasses coming up. Even the inter glacier has some good size holes just under a thin bridge or past a blind roll. Just because there's a trench from previous glissades, doesn't mean it's a smart or safe line to follow. Really for areas like the inter glacier (if you have chosen to travel it unroped), you might want to consider mastering the more difficult "boot glissade" technique so you can better see what's in front of you. I think it goes without saying, but don't glissade on the upper mountain and while roped up. Of course, it's good to also check and make sure rocks and alpine vegetation have not melted out in your line as well.

2. Take your crampons off before glissading if you value your knees and ankles. It's easy to catch a point when your going fast and next thing you know you flipped around to be flying down face first with a sprained or broken ankle. 

3. Have your ax ready and know how to self-arrest. On steeper pitches, it's easy to get going faster than you mean to or expect. Make sure you can stop yourself fast so the rocks at the bottom don't. 

4 Keep your pack tight and clean. A lot of gear has been popping up in those glissade trenches. It can leave you rather thirsty when you get to the bottom and find your water bottle gone. Or even worse, when the one strap that was holding your tent (or part there of) to your pack breaks, and you get to the bottom without your $500 shelter. If it looks like you're having a tag sale of gear on your pack, it's likely to become a yard sale on the mountain when you glissade.