snow pickets

11:49 a.m. on April 12, 2011 (EDT)
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I am in the process of buying some snow pickets for upcoming trips I plan on taking out west - I want protection for belays and anything else while on exposed snow slopes with no ice or rock to necessarily anchor into. Snow pickets seem like the best bet either by just driving them into the hard pack or by creating a dead man's anchor.

What I need for info is this: what do I use for an anchor to the picket when it's used as a deadman? Is a piece of rope tied off ok, should I use nylon webbing?

4:19 p.m. on April 13, 2011 (EDT)
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bumpity bump bump.


I was thinking quickdraws would be great too, but maybe I'd make my own with locking carabiners and webbing so that I can adjust the length too.

7:15 p.m. on April 13, 2011 (EDT)
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Attach a locking biner to your picket.  Connect your sling to the biner.

A snow anchor might be lighter if you prefer:


Also, an ice screw might be handy to protect a sketchy spot or in crevasse rescue. 

Are you thinking Mt. Hood still? I plan on doing that one in May-ish of 2012, after I finish mtn school.  Then I'll have a better idea. 

You can always ask cascadeclimbers but, well, you know.  LOL!

8:01 p.m. on April 13, 2011 (EDT)
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thanks sage,


I was thinking of buying one of those anchors, and a couple of pickets. I'm in the process of learning more about ATC belay devices and belaying someone up to me, and having someone belay me from below while I top rope.


I might be taking a course this winter on these skills to brush up before I go in 2012. If my buddy can get the time off, I would like to do Mt Adams first, and Mt Hood a day or 2 later, depending on what we learn in the course this winter.

6:13 a.m. on April 14, 2011 (EDT)
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Ah yes, (yikes) the fluke!  I’d avoid this device; it can be tricky to set properly.  Even when set properly a fluke is sketchy IMO, since unobserved characteristics of the underlying snow pack, as well as snow depth, make flukes more prone than other anchors to fail when loaded. 

Pickets are better than flukes, and setting up multiple devices in series is better than a single device, as it spreads the forces applied to the system over more snow.  My preferred snow anchor is the snow bollard.  A decent bollard is surprisingly strong.  If the snow is soft, pass the rope around a pack nested in the top of the bollard to prevent the rope cutting into the bollard.  Alas there is always a tradeoff; bollard anchors take time to build.

Back to the OP’s query: you should attach the rope to any of these devices with a carrabinner. A runner is a good addition; use two carrabinners, one to attrach the rope, and one to attach the runner to the anchor (so as not to cut the runner on the sharp or tight radius aspects of your metal anchor).  You should also consider bringing ice screws for when the snow is more ice-like (or is ice).

Your question compels me to finish with these thoughts:
As I mentioned earlier there is craft involved in setting up snow anchors; do not think a reading of Freedom of the Hills or other text is sufficient to make one a competent steep snow traveler.  This environment has more objective risk, given it is a relatively dynamic medium compared to steep rock.  Many accidents happen even with good technique. Improper techniques traveling under a running belay or an inappropriate belay stance can result in peeling everyone off the slope.  Given the fact even a minor slip can turn a climber into a dangerous flailing whirligig of sharp tools and spikes, you really should consider getting some technical instruction before going with others who are not certified.  You owe this to your climbing partners, if not yourself.


2:35 p.m. on April 14, 2011 (EDT)
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Agreed Ed,

The course is already set up for January 2012, the climbs are in June.

9:13 a.m. on April 15, 2011 (EDT)
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...the climbs are in June.

Have any specific venues in mind?


9:42 p.m. on April 15, 2011 (EDT)
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ummmmm...... as Ed says, better get some real instruction before setting off onto the snow and ice with a bunch of these things. That includes lots of instruction with ice ax and crampons, plus maybe ice tools. Snow and ice are a very different venue from rock. It changes literally by the minute with even small temperature changes.

8:28 p.m. on April 18, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks Bill,

I have a lot of experience with crampons, ice axes, ice tools, and have done a lot of climbing and hiking to gain additional experience this last winter. Lots of this was done on mixed alpine terrain with deep snow, frozen snow, blue ice, and rock, with frequent technical skills required as the rock and ice and snow mixed causing some fun scenarios with crampons  :-)

Just today I did a fun hike/climb with a mix of crusty snow, ice, rock, and slushy deteriorating conditions on the way down as the sun warmed up.

Ed - We are going to plan 2 climbs to make the rather expensive trip out west worth while. The first will be Mt Adams in Washington state - we will probably take our time camping and climbing and spend 2-3 days on Adams. Then we are going to drive 4 hours north to climb up to camp Muir on Rainier and camp out for a night and practice some techniques on the slopes without going above our skill set since we aren't using a guide. We are conservative and have 36 years combined knowledge of hiking and climbing between us, so we won't get in over our heads.

I plan meticulously, and while the unexpected can happen, I try to prepare myself for just that event, so we can respond safely and appropriately.

April 21, 2018
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