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18in. Snow pickets

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18in. Snow pickets

Postby Pallando » Wed Mar 31, 2010 11:46 pm

Does anyone know how well (as compared to one 24in picket) two equalized 18in snow pickets would be?

I know it sounds shifty, and there will always be the question of, "Why risk it/go cheap with anchors?" but if it's as solid as one 24in picket, would it not make anchoring quicker?

Considering you self arrest after your partner falls into a crevasse. It's just you holding him/her, and you have to hold self arrest while also building an anchor. How difficult is it to reach a 24in picket in your pack with one hand and pound it into the snow with one hand? I feel like if one had two 18in pickets on their thigh with a sliding X cordelette already ready to go, this would be much easier to grab and pound into the snow.

Is this too sketch to try out, or am I stuck with awkward anchor placement?
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Postby mattyj » Wed Mar 31, 2010 11:58 pm

In general, pounding top-clip pickets into the snow makes for an inadequate anchor - 2KN under good conditions. Obviously in something that's almost hard enough for an ice screw you may get a bit more, but you'll be pounding them in all day long.

If you pound a 24" picket in to a depth of 18" and then clip the first exposed hole, it will be as strong as an 18" anchor and take no extra work.

For a solid mid-clip upright placement, you can expect the 18" picket to be 25% less strong, since it's 25% shorter and the shear cone will be 25% smaller. At least until you hit the point where the picket is the weak point rather than the snow.

For a t-slot placement, I believe the strength difference will be less than for an upright mid-clip, but I don't know by how much.

But to reinforce my previous point: if you're planning on running a glacier haul system off two upright top-clip pickets, I wouldn't want to be anywhere near your system unless the snow was rock hard.
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Postby Pallando » Thu Apr 01, 2010 12:06 am

I would only be counting this as one anchor (even if it's technically two) and would quickly back it up with two 24in pickets. And to reiterate, these would be 18in so they could fit onto some kind of thigh holster for easy access.

I wasn't aware "standing" pickets were so shaky. Is this even under pre-dawn summer conditions? I suppose a T-slot would be a better anchor in this case, but how can one person set up a T-slot while in self arrest?
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Postby mconnell » Thu Apr 01, 2010 2:14 am

Pallando wrote: I suppose a T-slot would be a better anchor in this case, but how can one person set up a T-slot while in self arrest?


Holding a person (after they are caught) is pretty easy. In practice situations, I have almost always been able to use both hands for building an anchor while using just my feet to keep from sliding. The only time I didn't feel solid enough to use both hands was on clear ice, where I was using a screw for the anchor.
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Postby Steve Larson » Thu Apr 01, 2010 2:38 am

mconnell wrote:
Pallando wrote: I suppose a T-slot would be a better anchor in this case, but how can one person set up a T-slot while in self arrest?


Holding a person (after they are caught) is pretty easy. In practice situations, I have almost always been able to use both hands for building an anchor while using just my feet to keep from sliding. The only time I didn't feel solid enough to use both hands was on clear ice, where I was using a screw for the anchor.


Second that.

Pallando wrote:And to reiterate, these would be 18in so they could fit onto some kind of thigh holster for easy access.


If you carry them on the side of your pack and clip the runners to your pack strap they will be easy to access and out of the way. Another bonus, you're not carrying the weight of those extra 18" pickets that you don't want to use in an anchor anyway.
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Postby mattyj » Thu Apr 01, 2010 8:34 pm

Pallando wrote:I wasn't aware "standing" pickets were so shaky. Is this even under pre-dawn summer conditions? I suppose a T-slot would be a better anchor in this case, but how can one person set up a T-slot while in self arrest?


If snow conditions are just right, you can get a top-clip picket to fail before the snow around it does. But most of the time, they're pretty weak. From your original post, I gathered that you wanted to use an 18" picket because it was easier to pound in. If instead you're planning on bringing it because it's easier to have in a quickdraw fashion, I don't know that there's anything wrong with that per se, but I concur with other posters that having them on the side of your pack makes them easy to get. If I'm on a glacier I don't clip them in; I just drop them in the water bottle pocket and under the compression straps. Reach back with the hand on that side, grab a short loop of webbing I've put through the top hole, and out they come.

Regarding picket strength in general, you should take a look at the following document:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=3&ved=0CA0QFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mra.org%2Fdrupal2%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fdocuments%2Fgrants%2FFortiniSNOWANCHORS3B.pdf.pdf&rct=j&q=mra+sierra+madre+picket&ei=ivG0S46mCYSclgftjv03&usg=AFQjCNHG0k9-HP9hrpOtADnt_PsjDVyQHA
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Postby elliottwill » Fri Apr 02, 2010 4:50 am

I use 18" pickets and T-trench them. I seldom encounter snow hard enough to hold the short ones vertically, and never would want to carry the long ones necessary to hold vertically in such snow. So, I just bring the short ones and plan on always T-trenching.
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Re: 18in. Snow pickets

Postby Snowball » Fri Apr 02, 2010 6:36 am

Pallando wrote:Does anyone know how well (as compared to one 24in picket) two equalized 18in snow pickets would be?

I know it sounds shifty, and there will always be the question of, "Why risk it/go cheap with anchors?" but if it's as solid as one 24in picket, would it not make anchoring quicker?

Considering you self arrest after your partner falls into a crevasse. It's just you holding him/her, and you have to hold self arrest while also building an anchor. How difficult is it to reach a 24in picket in your pack with one hand and pound it into the snow with one hand? I feel like if one had two 18in pickets on their thigh with a sliding X cordelette already ready to go, this would be much easier to grab and pound into the snow.

Is this too sketch to try out, or am I stuck with awkward anchor placement?


warning: what follows is boring but useful information
(yes, i do have a lot of time on my hands without work... heheehhee)

I think i know what you are getting at.... This is a scenario that i practice before heading out onto glaciers. Guides will not usually "teach" the scenario of a two person roped team on a glacier and how to set an anchor solo from self arrest. After years of tweaking.... this is what i do:

1: carry an picket 18", a fluke, and an long ice screw on my harness. the side you have them on depends on the the lower hand you may have on your ice axe in self-arrest position. now after having stopped the fall in self arrest, you can start setting the anchor. reach down to your harness and grab you first piece of protection depending on the glacier condition. if its snow, i like to grab the fluke first because i can place that pretty well with one hand but the picket can work too in the vertical position into the snow.

2: at this point i clip the prussik from my rope directly into that first piece of pro. I will call that point of connection the powerpoint. i am assuming that setting an equalized anchor in self arrest is not possible. which is the case in most 1 person self arrest scenarios i feel unless you partner+pack only weigh 50lbs or somehting. at this point, i will place the second piece of protection adjacent or above the first one and clip this piece into the same power point of the prussik. now we have the anchor backed-up but not equalized.

3: now i slowly move down, slowly allowing the force of the rope (climber in the crevasse) to transfer onto these two pieces. if i see they are holding, then just as i pull out of self arrest, i plunge my ice axe vertically into the powerpoint of the prussik. this now creates a second backup to the first anchor piece. this system is not equalized but very good given the scenario. (if climbing in a party of 3 or more, the anchoring is trival and equalized as ideally wanted of course.)

4: now that you can stand up, you can create a third back up to your system, with either a second picket that you may have on your pack or by using your pack itself as a buried anchor and then clip this to your powerpoint as well.

5: at this point you can feel pretty certain that the system will hold.


(jerry nikko cooke, mt rainier 2005)
Image
in fact, i know that this anchor holds since it was tested on me in a real fall i took on mt rainier 5 years ago. my partner (the late Jerry Nikko Cooke who died a year later on mt hood, R.I.P. dude!) caught my fall and did precisely these steps and locked off the rope for me. (we were climbing as a two person team.) i was hanging down inside the crevasse 25ft in midair. after jerry pulled out my pack, i then prussiked up and out of the crevasse. his anchor was bomber and its was quite impressive that he did it all under the real-life pressure knowing that if he fumbled-up this anchor, we would both die.

i am writing all this because i have on many occasions gone climbing with people who thought they had their glacier two-man setup all set to go. then when we practiced on a safe slope a crevasse fall (by me pulling downhill on the rope tied to my partner, knocking him to the snow, then finally self-arresting this "fall"...) trying to create an equalized anchor with two peices of snow protection failed in almost all attempts. by pulling hard on the rope, it made it super hard for him to do anything. he was holding on in self arrest barely holding his position. an equalized anchor is a dream in selfarrest with the rope pulling hard on the harness. then when we switched to this system that i mention above, he was then able to create a bomber anchor because you can at least get one hand free and reach to the harness to grab the pieces of protection one-by-one and placing them in simple ways to each other. try it.

when it comes to glacier travel i am super paranoid so having a rig that is tested and works is super important to me. i ALWAYS practice this scenario with my partner (whoever he may be) before I will put my foot on a glacier. most climbers never do this. most never brush up. and most never insist on going through the effort of actually testing this scenario. it is really annoying time-wise to have to test this and to make sure that your partner has it dialed in too (even if he has 20yrs more exp of climbing). but ultimately, i guess there is no point in carrying all the anchor metal if you never really know how it all works in a high-stress real-deal practice ahead of time.

in my case in 2005, Jerry and i practiced this over and over on the snow adjacent to the Winthrop Glacier. By the end of the day we had both test each other and we were all wet but totally confident of what to do. Jerry was from NYC, so he really needed the practice. I was totally glad that he was happy to do it. The following day, i took a 25ft crevasse fall on a hidden crevasse on the Emmons Glacier. Jerry saw me disappear into the glacier and jumped into self arrest. He set an anchor as described above and saved my life... AND his too! He was after all still tied-in to me.

good luck man :)
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Postby Pallando » Fri Apr 02, 2010 7:52 pm

mattyj wrote:
If snow conditions are just right, you can get a top-clip picket to fail before the snow around it does. But most of the time, they're pretty weak. From your original post, I gathered that you wanted to use an 18" picket because it was easier to pound in. If instead you're planning on bringing it because it's easier to have in a quickdraw fashion, I don't know that there's anything wrong with that per se, but I concur with other posters that having them on the side of your pack makes them easy to get. If I'm on a glacier I don't clip them in; I just drop them in the water bottle pocket and under the compression straps. Reach back with the hand on that side, grab a short loop of webbing I've put through the top hole, and out they come.

Regarding picket strength in general, you should take a look at the following document:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=3&ved=0CA0QFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mra.org%2Fdrupal2%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fdocuments%2Fgrants%2FFortiniSNOWANCHORS3B.pdf.pdf&rct=j&q=mra+sierra+madre+picket&ei=ivG0S46mCYSclgftjv03&usg=AFQjCNHG0k9-HP9hrpOtADnt_PsjDVyQHA


matty and snowball, thanks both for some great info. That pdf gives some helpful information.

I was looking more at snowball's approach. I guess I'll just have to practice more to see if I can hold self arrest and set up a horizontal picket.

I also really like the idea of the ice axe backup anchor immediately after leaving self arrest.
snowball, you said you didn't think an equalized anchor is feasible from self arrest? It seems if your two pickets already have a cordelette with a sliding x in it it wouldn't be too hard... thoughts?
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Re: 18in. Snow pickets

Postby Augie Medina » Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:54 pm

Snowball wrote:in my case in 2005, Jerry and i practiced this over and over on the snow adjacent to the Winthrop Glacier. By the end of the day we had both test each other and we were all wet but totally confident of what to do. Jerry was from NYC, so he really needed the practice. I was totally glad that he was happy to do it. The following day, i took a 25ft crevasse fall on a hidden crevasse on the Emmons Glacier. Jerry saw me disappear into the glacier and jumped into self arrest. He set an anchor as described above and saved my life... AND his too! He was after all still tied-in to me.



I assume you could also add the step of setting up a Z pulley if the fallen climber couldn't ascend on his own?
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Postby Snowball » Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:35 am

Pallando wrote:snowball, you said you didn't think an equalized anchor is feasible from self arrest? It seems if your two pickets already have a cordelette with a sliding x in it it wouldn't be too hard... thoughts?



Y, i think that if you already have two pickets connected w a cordalette w a sliding X, it could work in theory. Worth a try on the snow with someone else yarding on you with full force on your harness. Also, when i meant using a picket as a placement from self-arrest, i meant that it would be plunged into the snow perpendicularly with the pre-attached webbing coming out of the top hole. If snow is no hard that it has to hammered in, then this is not possible to do from self arrest and i would recommend using the fluke (the larger snow fluke or the smaller neve fluke). I have found from exp that many people are in fact unfamiliar with how to use a fluke. They are an alternative to the picket and have the added advantage of being a dynamic anchor that actually holds better when loaded (SMC snow flukes are the best i feel since the steel wires are pre-set to suggest the correct angle on placement on the snow surface.)


Trying to bury a picket horizontally from self-arrest may be impossible in my view because that picket would have to buried super-deep to make it truly hold the full-force of the climber on the rope (but this could be done easily once you are outta selfarrest).
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Re: 18in. Snow pickets

Postby Snowball » Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:44 am

Mountain Impulse wrote:

I assume you could also add the step of setting up a Z pulley if the fallen climber couldn't ascend on his own?


Y, once you have that primary anchor bomber, setting up the Z pulley is straight forward from there. One person can easily do it. I have found that the C-Z pulley is significantly better than just the Z pulley. It is really really hard to pull someone on just a Z. Before heading to the glacier, i like to go the beach nearby the house and practice this whole thing on the sand. works pretty well. testing the z pulley versus the cz pulley is pretty fun to do. my gf is tied into the end of the rope and then i set up the pulley and watch here drag up toward the anchor across the sand. cz works so well compared to the the simple z, that even she can pretty effortless drag me up to the anchor as well. The simple z works but is crazy hard to pull. i guess with two people pulling on the line, it would work but i have only tested the setup of a two person team (one in the crevasse and one outside).
Last edited by Snowball on Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby brandon » Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:04 pm

In my experience, 18in snow pickets are the bomb. Find 3 foot MSR ones on sale and cut them in half. Perfect.

Have done free raps over seracs on a single one. Obviously, the most important consideration is snow quality, and lots of 'bomber' picket placements require a fair amount of digging. Digging in a vertical one, with a super narrow slot for the pretied sling goes quick.

Absolutely agree that 2 man glacier travels should always include both folks having a variety of snow and ice anchors at hand. Also, as much as practical, lighter partner always travelling first to test the bridges.
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