312 forum posts
I was up on a familiar hill yesterday and upon reaching the top in some crusty snow, which kept getting harder, I realised the inherent dangers of over-confindence, once again, in the outdoors. There is something almost blind-spot-like about it: you don't know that you don't know.
In this case I had decided that, as I was almost at the top, I could afford to do it without spikes because a) I was almost there, b) they were in my rucksack, c) I am good at edging on snow-ice, d) there was always the few bits of frozen moss in between the snow-ice, e) they were in my rucksack...and so on. When I noticed that part of the route traversed over a steeper section I had a quick look down and discovered that I was very close to being a statistic. And it was now just as difficult to retrace my steps as it was to continue.
Most of the problems on ice that I have seen, in my limited winter experience, are related to leaving it too late or doing it too early, in relation to crampons and micro-spikes. Later, on the way down, I did decide to leave my micro-spikes on right through to the soft earth, just to show I had internalised the lesson (and it was now dark - there could be more I wouldn't see).
Just before I made the mistake, I had been admiring a yellow Sea King helicopter as it cruised in the bright sky. This morning I read that it was dealing with a fatality on a nearby hill: someone had slipped and fallen on the snow-ice.
From now on, I will be carrying my micro-spikes on the outside. And I will think of carrying them as well as crampons when I need the latter because they are much easier to put on.
So: I see that there is ice ahead/around and it doesn't matter where I am on the mountain. I pull the micro-spikes/crampons off my pack. I sit down (not for crampons) and put the spikes on. I continue to enjoy the day. I then clear the ice and stop and pull the spikes off, because I am now standing on the earth. I put them on the outside of my pack again.
Is there anything else?