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Question Snowshoes vs Crampons?

Discussion in 'Backcountry' started by HansH, May 15, 2020.

  1. legend

    legend One of Us

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    The Kahtoola Microspikes would easily handle the ice on Bogong and Feathertop. They are amazing on clear glass blue ice.
    Unless you are ice climbing Feathertop and Blue Lake gullies (crampons and ice-axe country), then the microspikes will suit almost all the extreme conditions you find here in Australia. Another big bonus they fold up small, easily fit all boot types and weigh very little.
     
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  2. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yep.
    Well before.

    Ive been caught out once.

    Snow was crusty/icey slipping a bit if weight transition wasn’t just right, just found the one buried bush and the ground collapsed a bit underneath me and my balance was gone.

    The snowshoes were more of a balance hinderance than crampons would’ve been, I may not have been as exhausted from carefully placing my foot and making my weight transfers and if I had my crampons on I’d have had my axe in hand instead of 2 poles.

    I’ll never make the same mistake again.
    The slide was terrifying in hindsight once you realise the consequences had there not been an arrest. It would’ve been so much safer and quicker to arrest with crampons and ice axe at the ready. If in doubt - swap them out!
     
  3. Moondog55

    Moondog55 One of Us

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    You can't really and shouldn't traverse in snowshoes, straight up and straight down the fall lines is safest and easiest on the feet, took me a while to work that out and it makes for interesting route finding sometimes
     
  4. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    I spent three white seasons on MSR snow shoes carting micro spikes, a heavy pack and ice axe etc. around and snow camping with a snow tent , snow shovel etc. until I realized that XC BC skiing is a skill that is worth acquiring.

    I even changed my online forum Nome de plume from Mr.Tee on snow shoes to Mr. Tee on XC skis.

    The snow shoes very seldom come out of my cellar now. I do carry Kahtoola micro spikes in my ski bag along with other goodies that come with the activity .

    XC skiing is a great way to travel EFFICIENTLY on snow and with some lessons and application you will improve quickly and hopefully fall over less ;-P.
    My dream and motivation was to ski the Bogong High Plains. Last season I skied out to Edmondson's hut from Falls Creek as the crow flies, ate lunch there and skied back to Falls Creek in a day. I was chuffed and a little puffed too.
    :)
    Having just a day pack helps too.

    Regarding the use of an ice axe. It is potentially dangerous to have one and not be well versed in using it safely. Rehearsing a self arrest in a non life and death setting is a good idea.
    Having a whippet self arrest ski pole for BC XC skiing is useful but not the same as an ice axe. I have one of each.
     
  5. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    I was like you( bushwalking, snow shoes etc.) and now wish I had bit the bullet and learnt to ski sooner. Just do it!
     
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  6. pegasusSki

    pegasusSki Addicted

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    HansH - Snowshoes are a pain - better off learning to ski.
    The kick and glide needs a lesson or 2. Technique is king, but no need to waste time starting on shoes - there is no need to transition from shoes, I mean. If heading out the back of Falls, just get on the skis!

    Technique is needed to optimise the glide - and to turn and stop going downhill.
     
  7. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    Yes, I have one like that :)
     
  8. Newsteve

    Newsteve Early Days

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    Seeing as I can't actually do anything at present, I was inspired to dust off some of the gear. Oh to be back on the Tasman again.
    OBTW, these boots weigh in at 1180g each (without the crampons:).
     
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  9. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    May I like this post a squillion times please?
     
  10. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    Side stepping is also a necessary skill which comes in handy in many situations on XC skis. Plus Herringbone ascents.
     
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  11. satanas

    satanas Addicted

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    If you're climbing - not skiing - then sure, axes are useful. However, if you're not climbing and have ski poles, especially something like Whippets, then IME axes are extra weight and rarely if ever get used. Crampons make climbing steep slopes with variable snow and traction a doddle, and save lots of effort, both physical and mental; it's often easier to put them on and just plod straight up than it is to traverse around on skins.

    And with crampons, lightweight alu ones are much more likely to be carried, and thus used, than are heavy steel ones. No, alu crampons aren't ideal for mixed terrain or front pointing up frozen waterfalls, but if I'm somewhere that's necessary on a ski trip there's been a serious navigational error.

    Once ropes or vertical ice come into play, things change, but that's not relevant to many ski trips here in Oz, at least that I'm aware of. If conditions are really ugly I'm going to be doing something else, but YMMV.
     
  12. pegasusSki

    pegasusSki Addicted

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    very flattered, mate. I was just thinking you would be the expert here!
     
  13. pegasusSki

    pegasusSki Addicted

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    very nice, almost acquired a pair s/h a few years back
     
  14. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    Oh , it is no big deal . I have joined the dark side and left the snow shoes behind and now have 4 pairs of skis.SO if we can steer the O.P. towards skis then we will save him a few years of snow shoe activity. I used my snow shoes last season to carry a big pack into camp at Mt. Buffalo and it was horrible!. I could not wait to get the day pack on and click into my BC XC skis!
     
    #64 Mister Tee on XC Skis, May 19, 2020
    Last edited: May 19, 2020
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  15. Moondog55

    Moondog55 One of Us

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    Nice axe
    Chouinard?
    The Zero replacement?
    Nice axe even if it is old school
     
  16. HansH

    HansH Early Days

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    Wow, thanks for so much great info guys! I was away from the forums for a day and when I came back there was so many great posts to read through!

    @pegasusSki and @Mister Tee on XC Skis I am definitely keen to learn to ski (even more so now), assuming everything is open this winter I might try to get a few lessons to get me going and see how I do.

    In the meantime I am going to head to a few outdoors shops, try some boots, crampons and axes. Thanks again to everyone for the input its been a huge help!
     
  17. Chaeron

    Chaeron A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Rent some BC or Nordic gear for an hour or two from the Windy Corner centre at Falls Creek along with a short lesson,...

    https://www.fallscreek.com.au/listing/falls-creek-cross-country/
     
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  18. HansH

    HansH Early Days

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  19. pegasusSki

    pegasusSki Addicted

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    Back in '16 they only had Parvos for metal-edged XC. But ok to get a taste on the groomed trails.I struggled with a pack on some of the back narrow downhills with these...

    EDIT for the OP - relatively skinny old-school, in other words. Metal-edge gives you more oompph and bite and control off a trail. [er I think, don't listen to me, listen to an expert].

    Metal edge is what you need for any off-groomed route. To hold an edge.

    The unedged skis are like F1 sports cars - designed for groom.
    If your goal is to get off-trail into virgin snow where you are breaking trail - making a track, to camp, tour, then one day you will end up owning a metal-edge ski - a true 'BC' ski as apposed to a XC 'track' ski. Most modern metal edged skis now have a bit of fatness with a waist from the Boundless to a Eon- Epoch- Annum -Voile Vector from 68mm waist to almost 100mm waist. The trend seems to be getting fatter. The fatter (and maybe shorter) the better the float, downhill and turn,the skinnier, (and longer) the better the glide. [I probably sound like Ziggy now, his words are ringing in my ears].

    NB people can conflate XC and BC terms here - gear and usage - there are a few places out of Falls you can get to on recently groomed, [or not so recently groomed ] tracks on non-metal edges and still camp.

    You might hire non-metal to get a taste for the technique, and idea, but end up on metal very quickly if that is where you are headed. The light skis are something like SNS/NNN-[BC] the heavy ones are more 75mm tele. AT is newer but harder to hire in VIC apart from Stirling - my own personal mileage.

    If you hire something to get an idea, you will probably end up on something else later on. It's a journey. It's like passing your test in a Focus, then buying a Camry but wanting a HSV.

    It's all about time frankly, too, hence why even Baw Baw is useful to try.
     
  20. Mister Tee on XC Skis

    Mister Tee on XC Skis A Local Ski Pass: Silver

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    If Lake Mountain actually opens this white season then pick a day when they have fresh snow and not compacted ice and have a beginner's XC ski lesson. Lake Mtn. has some learner friendly terrain as well as some more interesting bits such as the Jubilee trail.
    The gear you will rent from @teckel in Narbethong will be classic skinny XC pattern base ski gear. It is lighter and faster to ski on using groomed terrain but effing useless off piste especially in fresh deep snow.

    One example of that is Lake Mountain. You might be cruising along the Panorama trail and decide to scout out the Boundary hut ruins. That is not groomed or patrolled. Skinny skis on that track are almost impossible. I have tried and quit.
    I came back the next week on my Madshus Epoch skis and had a better time using the wider fatter metal edged ski that floats over the ungroomed and uncompacted snow so well .

    The gear you can rent at Windy Corner Nordic ski centre at Falls Creek will be if you request it, some decent BC ( back country ) XC ski gear.

    BC XC ski gear usually involves wider heavier metal edged pattern based skis and often more robust NNN BC ski boots.
    These are actually easier and more stable to ski in on most terrain rather than the classic toothpick thin pattern base XC track skis that others favour.

    Don't be put off with falling over or being well out of your comfort zone sliding away from the chains of stability that snowshoes and crampons offer. Skis slide.

    With a rinse and repeat approach and more lessons you will control the skis and gain confidence to charge down and around hills and make those pattern base fish scales buzz and sing. Snow shoes and spikes of various sorts do not slide. They are the opposite.

    Snow shoes are so slow going down hills.
    Oh it is laborious and tedious work :-0
     
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  21. Newsteve

    Newsteve Early Days

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    Black Diamond, I like em straight, I am old (school) :)
     
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  22. Rimey

    Rimey One of Us

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    Now, select your frock ...

    [​IMG]
     
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  23. ecowain

    ecowain One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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  24. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks for reminding me about these. I ordered a pair yesterday as a result of the reminder.

    So if anyone is interested make a diary note to ask me in a months time if they arrived and what they are like.
     
  25. ecowain

    ecowain One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Let me know. I’d love some aluminium ones once they make them.
     
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  26. Moondog55

    Moondog55 One of Us

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  27. piolet

    piolet Better make it three Ski Pass: Gold

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    I've had a raven for years
    I want a shorter slightly bent one for skiing
     
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  28. DJM

    DJM One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    I’d like a slightly longer straight one.....
     
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  29. Moondog55

    Moondog55 One of Us

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    I like my old first generation Venom axe but I haven't used it for climbing yet, it's more a LW security blanket
     
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  30. Total Whiteout

    Total Whiteout One of Us

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    For any serious trip (I.e. Bogong) I carry a pair of crampons and also skins (I have pattern skis but will skin up over ice if need be). Also make sure everyone in the group I’m leading has them too. Have also just bought an ice axe. Have definitely thanked god I've had crampons a couple times now. Another suggestion I’d have is to put them on slightly earlier than you probably need to. Boiler plate ice is often associated with howling alpine winds. And alpine wind is itself associated with very very cold fingers. Which are not associated with fiddling with crampons for any extended period of time.
     
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