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Winter Hiking

How to use an Ice Axe

Ice axe self-arrest

An ice axe is an essential safety tool for winter hiking and climbing. With proper instruction, it is easy to learn the basics and serves as a foundation for all subsequent winter hiking and mountaineering skills. If you’re new to winter hiking and climbing, the first thing you need to …

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Multi-Purpose Items as Snow Anchors

Practice Emergency Snow Trench to get out of the Winter Wind

Question You need to set up a shelter fast, but don’t have the time for snow anchors to set. What pieces of multi-purpose gear can you use to set up a winter tent, shaped tarp, or flat tarp? Answer If I’m up in the mountains on a winter overnight, I’m …

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Winter Backpacking Gear List

Mt Guyot (4580') I'll be headed back here to try and get a better view this time!

I believe in creating a new gear list for every trip I take that takes into consideration the environmental conditions (weather, terrain, water, navigation, sunlight, etc) I’m likely to encounter. There was a time when I had one static gear list, but ever since I started hiking year round in …

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The Rest Step – Hiking Footwork

The Rest Step

When I go hiking in winter, I’m frequently climbing a mountain and carrying 2-4 times the amount of gear by weight that I carry the rest of the year. On top of that, I wear double plastic boots that weigh 5lbs per pair, plus crampons that weigh nearly 3 lbs …

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Winter Backpacking Food

One of the best things about winter backpacking and mountaineering trips is the food. You can eat just about anything and never feel guilty about it, including these Ritter Sport Bars which pack over 630 calories each! Seriously though, winter nutrition is an important subject if you’re going to be …

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Snowshoes, Postholing, and Winter Trail Etiquette

Snowshoers should stay off ski tracks

It’s a common courtesy among winter hikers to wear snowshoes when hiking on winter trails that are covered in unpacked snow deeper than 8 inches. Hikers who don’t wear snowshoes usually posthole, plunging knee or waist deep into the snow and creating a deep hole that other hikers passing by …

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The Best Pee Bottle is not a Bottle

You can't really pee out the front door of your tent at a crowded campsite

Sometimes you can’t leave your tent to take a pee. There might be a rain or snowstorm outside, it might be frigid cold and windy, or you might be surrounded by other campers at a crowded tent site where you can’t simply pee out the front door at night, and …

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Avalanche Beacons and Companion Rescue

If you go into Avalanche terrain, you should always bring an avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe with you, and know how to use them so that you can rescue your friends quickly if they’re caught in an avalanche. Learning and practicing companion rescue is essential because a buried victim’s best …

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What is a Rutschblock Test?

Snow Column Testing

A Rutschblock test (pronounced ROOTCH BLOCK) is a snowpack compression test used by winter adventurers, backcountry guides, and avalanche forecasters to test for avalanche danger. It is designed to simulate the shock that a skier, snowboader, or snowshoer/climber, exerts on the snowpack when they cross it, and helps predict whether …

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