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2008 Backcountry Trip Reports => June 2008 Backcountry Trip Reports => Topic started by: Lowell_Skoog on 06/29/08, 01:17 PM



Title: June 27, 2008, Mt Rainier, Glacier Vista kidspedition
Post by: Lowell_Skoog on 06/29/08, 01:17 PM
(http://www.alpenglow.org/misc/2008/20080627-self-arrest-coll.jpg)

Now that school is out, kids have more free time and parents have less.  You know what I mean.  On Friday, my son Tom's day camp was cancelled and I was at a breakpoint at work, so I decided to take him skiing at Paradise.  We breezed out of Seattle and arrived at Paradise a little after 10 a.m.  (Is it just me or have high gas prices started to reduce road congestion?)

A week ago Tom hiked up a snowy peak with my wife and expressed interest in learning how to use an ice axe for self-arrest.  I decided to combine ice axe practice with a little skiing during this trip.

We hiked on foot from Paradise to Glacier Vista, where the trail switches back up the west flank of Panorama Point.  I carried Tom's ski boots and both our pairs of skis.  Concerned about him using an ice axe for the first time, I covered the adze of one of my axes with rubber and duct tape so he wouldn't cut himself.

It was a beautiful day for a picnic but whenever the breeze died, it was hot!  After lunch overlooking the Nisqually Glacier, we went through the basics of walking with an ice axe and arresting from both a head-up and head-down position.  I was pleased with how quickly Tom (age 11) seemed to pick up the techniques and I'll be more comfortable taking him on snow hikes now.

Around 3:30 p.m. we swapped hiking boots for ski boots and descended back to Paradise.  The snow was soft and sticky but it still beats walking.  Let's hear it for summer!

(http://www.alpenglow.org/misc/2008/20080627-0027-tom-near-glacier-vista.jpg)


Title: Re: June 27, 2008, Mt Rainier, Glacier Vista kidspedition
Post by: Stugie on 06/29/08, 01:21 PM
That's a perfect arrest!  Looks like the diagram right out of the mountaineer's guide!


Title: Re: June 27, 2008, Mt Rainier, Glacier Vista kidspedition
Post by: Marcus on 06/29/08, 01:30 PM
Nice Lowell -- neat to see the pics of the trip you told me about.  Tom's looking solid.


Title: Re: June 27, 2008, Mt Rainier, Glacier Vista kidspedition
Post by: Scottk on 06/29/08, 02:39 PM
We past you just below Glacier Vista on our way down from FF.  I didn't realize it was you and your son until we were past.  It's great to see a youngster showing such enthusiasm for picking up mountaineering skills.  You must be doing a good job managing his experiences so he keeps such a positive attitude.


Title: Re: June 27, 2008, Mt Rainier, Glacier Vista kidspedition
Post by: Alan Brunelle on 06/29/08, 09:09 PM
I am glad you posted on the topic.  It looked like a fun way to learn a good skill.  From my perspective, I will now be able to show my son your post and what you did with your 11-year old and he will connect much better than if I just made him do it.

Earlier this week, my son (also 11) and I backed off of Sauk Mtn. partly because of the steep snow.  I am not so sure had he been practiced in self arrest we would have gone on, because there was rockfall going on, but the time will come.

I can think of taking my son on a trip out on Ptarmigan Arm, with the hope of doing Coleman Pinnacle last year and that nasty little patch of snow just after the Chain Lakes trail junction stopped us cold.  This is something that I have done a half dozen times and is the only sketchy part of the trip, but I would not do it with him.  It is just too steep, with no run out and a bunch of rock rubble at the bottom.  Ice Axe arrest would have been a great tool in that case, because once by that we would have been free to travel for miles!  On the other hand we camped nearby and the forecast good weather failed us and we were outta there the next morning anyway.

The next thing is to teach him to travel on steep snow, which he has done a little with the Ramer claws, which work well if the snow is not too hard.

Alan


Title: Re: June 27, 2008, Mt Rainier, Glacier Vista kidspedition
Post by: Lowell_Skoog on 06/29/08, 09:22 PM
Hi Alan,

I should have replied earlier that I thought you made a very good decision on Sauk Mountain. The trail zig-zags up a very steep slope and it's serious business when snow covered.

I'm quite conservative with my son and we've only started doing snow hikes this year. Even though he's gaining some ice axe skills, I'll be very careful about where we go. If we were to cross a slope where he really needed those skills to avoid hurting himself in a slip, I think I would short-rope him.

We're feeling our way gradually on this. If he expresses a lot of interest in snow hikes/climbs I'm going to have to buy him some better boots. The boots he has now are really just intended for hiking.


Title: Re: June 27, 2008, Mt Rainier, Glacier Vista kidspedition
Post by: Joedabaker on 06/29/08, 10:12 PM
Quote from: Lowell_Skoog on 06/29/08, 09:22 PM
If he expresses a lot of interest in snow hikes/climbs I'm going to have to buy him some better boots.


I would be surprised if he didn't take an interest, but nice to see parents allowing their kids a choice. They discover what they like and It makes it easier to enjoy in the long run.
Great action shots.


Title: Re: June 27, 2008, Mt Rainier, Glacier Vista kidspedition
Post by: Scotsman on 06/30/08, 08:39 AM
Beware Lowell,
                        when they get older ( like Stewie) they start "borrowing " your gear.  ;)
Great shots of the arrest sequence.


Title: Re: June 27, 2008, Mt Rainier, Glacier Vista kidspedition
Post by: Alan Brunelle on 06/30/08, 09:03 AM
Lowell,

I think that it can be hard for adults to translate what they have as confidence in their ability gained from years of experience vs. a kid's apparent confidence in such situations coming about because of their lack of experience.  That is, most kids I believe may not naturally understand the consequences of a fall on steep snow, nor an understanding of how fast they can accelerate and how difficult it can be to stop.  I need to continually remind myself of that when I am out with Nick.  Just as important is to train him and get him the experience through positive situations, such as you did with Tom.  It would also do me some good to review the techniques as well at the same time.  We have done some, but need lots more.

I am trying to find routes this year where we do not necessarily avoid steep snow, but if we do travel on steep sections, a slip would take a fallen hiker/skier into safer terrain rather than a terrain trap.  Luckily there are lots of those around here.  We may not venture back to Sauk.  As you know, the trail up high traverses a very steep heather/short willow slope, which in itself makes for an interesting arrest situation.  Those willow stems are super slippery even on a dry day!  On the other hand, we have done this as a summer hike before...  The challenge is finding an exciting trip that doesn't require 4hr drives!

One point for those who would want to go up Sauk is that the trail does have holes and slumps from winter wear, water saturation and snow creep/slides.  It is quite soft in places and a slip could occur.  It occurred to me on Thursday that the trail cutting this slope seems to have created some damage by its presence.  It must require a lot of maintenance each year.

Alan



Title: Re: June 27, 2008, Mt Rainier, Glacier Vista kidspedition
Post by: telemack on 07/01/08, 09:56 PM
Quote from: Scotsman on 06/30/08, 08:39 AM
Beware Lowell,
                        when they get older ( like Stewie) they start "borrowing " your gear.  ;)

Yeah, but then they start breaking trail for us....


Title: Re: June 27, 2008, Mt Rainier, Glacier Vista kidspedition
Post by: Alan Brunelle on 07/01/08, 10:06 PM
Quote from: telemack on 07/01/08, 09:56 PM
Yeah, but then they start breaking trail for us....


Yeah right  ;)

He's just starting to mow the lawn now, but he wants money for that!  He'd probably want to get paid for breaking trail.

Alan


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