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Techniques in Japan: Learning How to Self-Arrest
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Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Techniques in Japan: Learning How to Self-Arrest on 10/27/2008 00:36:10 MDT Print View

For quite a while now I've been wanting to learn how to use an ice axe and crampons for winter walking in the mountains here in Japan, but have no idea where I might go to take courses in this. Would anyone who lives in or has lived in Japan know of any resources for taking such courses? Obviously I want to get instruction from someone whom I can trust and who knows their stuff. Any advice and suggestions would be much appreciated.

Thanks!

昔からピッケルとアイゼンのテクニックを学びたかったけどどこで学べば良いか誰と相談した方が良いか分かりません。安心で信用出来る学校かガイドから学びたいです。おすすめの所誰か知ってますか?アドバイスをください。よろしくおねがいします。

Edited by butuki on 10/27/2008 00:41:21 MDT.

Arapiles .
(Arapiles) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Re: Techniques in Japan: Learning How to Self-Arrest on 10/27/2008 06:13:53 MDT Print View

Hi Miguel

I don't know of any comprehensive courses in Japan (although Mont Bell may run some, and there may be courses around Nagano but I'd expect that they'd be pitched at a pretty low level - probably nothing more than a walk in the snow wearing crampons) - I'd suggest two things: there's a Slovenian guy (? he's European in any case) who's a European-qualified guide (cf the dodgy local-qualified guides) living in Japan who does a lot of backcountry guiding around Nagano in winter - if I can find his name I'll post it. The other alternative - particularly attractive given the current exchange rates - is a TMC (technical mountaineering course) in NZ. The TMCs presume no prior knowledge but aim to get you proficient for high altitude travel. You fly into Christchurch or Auckland then take a short plane flight or a bus to Mt.Cook. Alpine Guides are the best known company. Then you spend a week in the mountains doing axe work, theory, glacier travel, avalanche prediction, rescue etc etc. The courses have an extremely high reputation and if you can cope with the NZ Alps you can cope with the Japanese alps.

Arapiles .
(Arapiles) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Re: Re: Techniques in Japan: Learning How to Self-Arrest on 10/27/2008 06:32:13 MDT Print View

This is the guy:


http://web-japan.org/nipponia/nipponia19/en/living/index.html


If you don't want to travel overseas you could try these guys:

http://www.evergreen-hakuba.com/evergreen-guides.php

Paul Tree
(Paul_Tree) - F

Locale: Wowwww
learning self arrest on 10/27/2008 12:06:09 MDT Print View

Have you read up? There's great videos on youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LM3xLshmNnk

The Climbing Tools videos are good too:
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=climbing+tools+ice&search_type=&aq=f

Be aware that self-arrest in crampons is different than without, often not emphasized in the literature. Basically, if you get speed, dont dare let them dig in or you will be tumbling. Use knees instead.

If crossing unexpected firmness, you may be getting out the axe while skipping the crampons. Faster, and can be awkward to try and get your crampons mid-slope. ( So get them on before you need them, if possible.) So there will likely be times you want to be able to arrest without the crampons as well. In that case, digging in your feet is preferable.


Have you done boot glissading? You are looking for a similar type of slope with a LONG SAFE RUNOUT at the bottom. No rocks just beneath the snow. No trees or other obstacles anywhere near your fall line. A perfect area will reduce your anxiety immensely. Inspect it on the way up.


Here, typically pass areas near the highway are where people run classes. Try to find a slope with a variety of aspect (sun exposure) and angles.

Heartily recommended: COVER THE SPIKE. Tape over your spike guard or some hose folded over it might work too.

When we practiced, we went blindfolded and walked by a line of people that one would push you off. Practice with falling on your back, pick, and flip over. With a pack, etc.

And oh yeah if you have elbow or knee pads, like for soccer or anything, that can be nice if it is pretty firm.

Hey ask these guys:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=9140

Edited by Paul_Tree on 10/27/2008 12:10:14 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Techniques in Japan: Learning How to Self-Arrest on 10/27/2008 17:13:48 MDT Print View

Thanks Arapiles and Paul. I didn't know about the European guy and so I will take a look at it. I will be going to NZ in December, but only have a little more than a week there, so I won't be able to get any of the training in, but I'll keep that company in mind.

Paul, I've read up quite a lot about self-arrest, but from what I've read it is not a good idea to try to learn the methods on your own. Much better to have someone show you and watch you. I have an ice axe, but don't really know if it the right one. I have crampons, too, but again don't know if I have bought thr right ones. There is too much that I simply can't make informed decisions on without talking to someone who is there with me showing me what I should and shouldn't do.

I distrust a lot of the outdoor teaching here, to be honest. Too much concentration on rules and hierarchy and flashy equipment, and not enough getting down and dirty in the real world. I was once kayaking across Suruga Bay and watched a PADI scuba diving certification course in progress, with the students positioned right in the middle of a fishing boat lane! I vowed never to get my scuba diving license here.

But then, maybe I just don't know the sources for the better instructors out there...

Thanks again!

Edited by butuki on 10/27/2008 17:20:48 MDT.

Arapiles .
(Arapiles) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Re: Re: Techniques in Japan: Learning How to Self-Arrest on 10/28/2008 06:55:28 MDT Print View

Re the right and wrong ice-axe and crampons ... depends on what you want to use them for. I found my Salewa aluminium 12 point crampons perfect because they were light enough to carry in summer but worked perfectly in winter in the Alps. They just may wear more quickly if you're on a lot of rock. I had BD steel 10 point crampons but they were heavy, rusted immediately and with only 10 points I didn't get enough underfoot support.

A good place to read up is the UK sites, including Outdoorsmagic and the British Mountaineering Council website.

I also meant to suggest visiting Calafate in Mejiro as they have good climbing/mountaineering/telemark gear and are usually pretty helpful.

Paul Tree
(Paul_Tree) - F

Locale: Wowwww
Additional safeties on 10/28/2008 10:15:49 MDT Print View

may as well cover the adze too. Wear a multi-impact helmet and make sure it wont hurt you. Not too much play and sharp edges. You can wear a beanie under for extra padding, pretty realistic for cold conditions.

ROBERT TANGEN
(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Self-Arrest on 10/28/2008 17:28:32 MDT Print View

Another source to at least orient your mind is the video, "Alpine Ice," by Jeff Lowe.