Micro-spikes and timing.

4:40 a.m. on December 11, 2012 (EST)
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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?

7:01 a.m. on December 11, 2012 (EST)
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I am with ya on the carrying on the outside of the pack to keep them readily available(especially when the sun drops.)

(orange things on the back of my pack:)
LHHT-January-2012-039.jpg

9:14 a.m. on December 11, 2012 (EST)
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Us folks on the ice coast live in our micro spikes. I would have fallen so many times without mine. I walk past people strugglin along in their yak traks, I offer a hand but they only wanna know whats on my feet. Always on the outside of my pack.

10:21 a.m. on December 11, 2012 (EST)
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That gave a good chuckle, Hotdogman! The first time I looked at getting traction devices, I dropped by a local store to see what they had. I was impressed with how stupidly designed yaktrax were. You'd think they were intended to wear out and break within a few uses!

 

12:45 p.m. on December 11, 2012 (EST)
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i don't own  microspikes, but i'm fairly liberal with the crampons.  my snowshoes have teeth almost as long as the crampons.  better safe than dead.  i keep them strapped to the outside of my pack with point protectors, so i don't shred my pack, my friends, or myself if a stumble awkwardly. 

5:11 p.m. on December 11, 2012 (EST)
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Good to know about the other stuff - I got my micro-spikes after reading all the reviews and I am pleased with how they handle on anything but the steepest slopes.

Another thing I like is the newer packs that have a quick release/buckle design, which allows you to remove the axe whilst wearing it, should you end up stranded like I was above. It may only aid movement by cutting steps until you can get something on your feet but it will give you a chance to arrest should you go downwards.

5:57 p.m. on December 11, 2012 (EST)
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My Microspikes are a standby for me in winter. In addition to using them on most snow/ice covered trails (unless the snow is deep enough for snowshoes), I always have them with me in the trunk of my car.Before every winter hike, I clip them onto the outsde of the pack on a carbiner.

They also come in handy under other circumstances. If you have to get out and walk around on black ice, such as when changing a flat tire, they can be real lifesavers. I've had a highway cop ask me where to get them when he saw me using them at a local rec area, and a friend of mine who is with the local police uses them now.

December 21, 2014
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