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Snow good

You might be surprised at the number of times you take one or two ‘reverse’ steps. I only realised when using snowshoes that I do it without thinking. This can result in a rapid up ending. …

Agree your comments regarding crampons and ice axe. Get someone to spend at least a day going through their use. Or do a couple of days proper winter skills course which should include a bit on avalanche awareness and winter navigation.

Off the top of my head on ice axe and crampons.
Appropriate axe selection (length, head weight, rating - T or B). Too light an axe makes it useless for step cutting. Wrong pick profile makes self arrest challenging as does too long or too short shaft.
How to carry it on your bag safely and temp stowage methods which leave it accessible
How to hold axe
Step cutting using boot edges and ice axe
Axe use as a support - uphill hand
Moving keeping two points of contact - rhythm
Zig zagging uphill and how to turn corners safely
Heel plunge on downhill
Self belay
Self arrest
Crampon selection and boot compatibility
Importance of correct adjustment at home in the warm and dry! Including cutting strap excess length.
Use of crampon bags (good) vs point covers (horrid)
Fitting crampons in the field, finding the right spot, remembering to fit early rather than waiting too late when things are already steep and slippery. Practice, practice, practice… your hands will thank you when you can get yours on in 3 mins while everyone else messes about.
Walking style ‘John Wayne’. Keeping front points away from heels as you move.
Ensuring flappy trousers are secured below the calves - gaiters.
All the different crampon uses - flat foot, front point, mixed, how to get a safe rest position.
The extra danger of self arrest when wearing crampons.
Keeping crampons on until it is properly safe to remove.
Understanding that crampons grip on rocks too and leaving them on when crossing mixed terrain won’t damage them.
Care and maintenance and proper inspection.
I’ve probably missed something important. …

Lots to learn with ice axe and crampons

A friend of mine learned the hard way - went too long on a concave slope (that is to say, steepening) before realising that he REALLY needed his crampons! He slid about 400 metres, finally zooming over a small cliff and landing in a soft snowdrift. Unfortunately he had broken a hip on a protruding rock and finished up with a plate repair, it affected his nerve and I think he never went out in winter again.

Only balling up. In some conditions the snow sticks to your crampons and can build up into a blob several centimetres thick, in those conditions you frequently tap the side of the crampons with the ice axe to dislodge the snow.


Thanks Brian, your putting me off going near the Ogwen valley this season :smile:

Away I go do to an exam !


Ah! Ogwen - so many memories, like tip-toeing up the Idwal Slabs feeling like a fly on an elephant’s backside…the attitude is that accidents happen to other people!

Good luck with the exam, or even better, I hope you don’t need good luck!


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Interesting stuff, thanks for all the comments and links.

I’ll probably err on the side of caution and avoid heavy snow and steep slopes. I did follow the link to Decathlon for snow shoes, which could be useful to me occasionally, but none of them accommodate size 12 boots, apparently. Maybe they think they are big enough already :smile:
I will do a bit more research, but has anyone else found them for that size? (size 12 UK = 47 European)


These >>>>>> http://tinyurl.com/zx4b3ju/361375921917


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These go up to EU size 50.

Bit more pricey though.

There are three main things to look at with snowshoes.
Boot size they will accommodate
Weight range - if you are “too heavy” for the snowshoe it just won’t provide the flotation
Heel raiser mechanism for going up hill (saves the ankles a lot!)

Interesting, thanks Gerald.
They are a bit pricey for me, though.
I’ll see if any appear at a bargain price in the spring :wink:

You could always DIY.
Not difficult to make!


I’m picturing dustbin lids and gaffer tape. Probably no less elegant than my normal walking style :smile:


I only went for a walk up Shining Tor in a bit of snow. Crampons, ice axes and winter mountaineering training not necessary :wink:

Google is your friend.
Don’t forget, snowshoes have been around much longer than Mr Decathlon!

Yes, you could go the gaffer tape route!


I am debating if these crampons, will go over the massive ex-army BUND boots that I have. Or if they are up to holding the boot itself. I think the Ice Axe is still a bit OTT for SOTA unless you really pushed it on a bad snow day, but your a better judge then I Gerald, on this matter.


Totally agree Tom. A nice stroll out in the fine winter weather. No need for anything special… except a good hot flask!

The secret is knowing when it turns from that into a mountaineering day out. Most people can work that out…

The avalanche awareness piece though still stands. It’s a real hazard to be aware of even in seemingly innocuous ‘rolling’ hills.

Ha! I have two pairs of those boots. Denbigh Army Surplus?

They are not rigid, stiff but not rigid.

So you need a C2 or C3 crampon.
This page is very informative.


HOWEVER! You MUST actually take your boots to the shop and actually fit the crampon to them before buying. The sole and upper shape of every boot is different and different crampon models suit different boots.

As for the ice axe. It’s not for climbing, it’s a basic tool for a winter walker. It’s primary functions are to provide additional security when moving on snow and ice covered ground and, crucially, permit self arrest if things do go wrong (subject to acquiring the skill).

Interesting, thanks. OK it will be a C3 seen as they are a year old now. Yes, as soon as you mentioned Denbigh Army Surplus when we met up I payed them a visit the following week. I have never had wet or sore feet since.

Brilliant boots, they are just so resilient and yet don’t feel particularly heavy despite the appearance. Thanks for the advice.