Thursday, December 04, 2008

Crampons and the Sitting Technique

I can't think of any place in the Catskills where there is as much as a 1,500-foot sheer drop. And even though I have been hiking in the Catskills for nearly 25 years, mostly in the winter, I cannot recall hearing about even a single death or serious injury of the nature that took place on Mt. Shasta.

But I guess I should mention one incident that happened to me about 20 years ago on a winter hike in the Catskills. I forget which mountain it was, but we were descending a rather steep pitch that was covered with ice. I was wearing 12-point crampons, but somehow, I instinctively tried to sit down while descending the slope -- something that makes a lot of sense under ordinary conditions, but is the worst thing you can do while going down an icy slope, as most of us don't put crampons on our rear ends! Well, I started sliding down and thought that I would go over the edge. And I didn't have an ice axe. Luckily, I was able to grab onto a tree and stop my fall, and I wasn't injured at all. But I'll never forget that incident!
Daniel Chazin
Catskill 3500 Club #556, Winter #214


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