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Self-arrest techniques on a glacier Bremstechniken am Gletscher Bremstechniken am Gletscher
Subchapter: Self-arrest techniques on a glacier

Self-arrest techniques on a glacier

Falls can easily happen on firn and ice. Even on moderately steep terrain of 30 to 35 degrees, there is a risk of gathering speed quickly and sliding. It is possible to reach speeds similar to free fall. For this reason, it’s essential to practice self-arrest techniques on short, bolder-free snowfields that level off, so the process becomes automatic and your reactions immediate.

Without crampons, the best way to self-arrest on steep firn is to lie on your stomach with your feet below you in the push-up position. If you fall, you should adopt this position as quickly as possible. If you are wearing crampons, you must bend your knees and keep your crampons in the air. Failure to do this can result in a somersault and injury. Use the ICE AXE SELF-ARREST GRIP to brake your slide: Drive the pick into the snow and pull it under your body.

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Lying on your back without ice axe and without crampons

If you fall on your back, first roll onto your stomach and, with your legs together, use your arms to spin yourself round so that your feet are pointing downhill. Then adopt the push-up position and self-arrest using your legs.


Lying on your back with ice axe and without crampons

First you must roll from your back onto your stomach. Then adopt the basic position for ice axe self-arrest. Lying on your stomach, spread your legs slightly. Grab the ice axe with one hand over the head of the axe, the other holding the shaft. Hold your ice axe diagonally across your body and drive the pick into the snow.


Lying on your stomach with ice axe and without crampons

In the push-up position (lying on your stomach with arms beneath you and legs slightly apart) dig your toes into the snow to self-arrest. Use your arms to push your upper body away from the surface as with a push-up, drive the ice axe into the snow as a brake.


Lying head-first on your back, with ice axe and crampons

If you fall head-first, you should dig your elbows in as quickly as possible and bring up your knees to get into the correct position. Now roll onto your stomach, spread your legs slightly and bend your knees so that your crampons do not come into contact with the snow. Once again, use the ice axe self-arrest technique for braking.



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What spacing should be observed in a three-man rope team?
In what position relative to the mountain do you use the scythe-like kicking technique?

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What is the “accordion method” used for?
How might a rope coil cause strangulation?

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What do I need to remember if I fall wearing crampons?

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Subchapter: Self-arrest techniques on a glacier


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Chapter 3

Rescue methods

In the next chapter we will focus upon the various techniques for a crevasse rescue: Pulleys, hauling and self-rescue. This will include building anchors to belay a rope team, including the t-slot anchor, firn anchor, sitting hip belay and planted ice axe belay.

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