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Crossing Snow Fields
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Scott Peterson
(scottalanp) - F

Locale: Northern California
Crossing Snow Fields on 02/04/2006 11:08:10 MST Print View

Part of a planned upcoming summer trip might involve crossing rather large snowfields at about 9000 feet. I am conflicted as to whether wearing my Vasque trail runners (which should be ideal for all other portions of the trip) will offer any kind of footing on snow/ice? I suppose I could try a pair of Katahoola's...but $129 seems kind of steep. Has anyone had any luck walking on snow in sneakers? I am so miserable lately in boots that I would probably attempt another route if I had to wear boots.

Eu Jin Goh
(casaval) - F
Re: Crossing Snow Fields on 02/04/2006 11:16:04 MST Print View

If the snowfield is not too steep, and not glacier ice, Stabilicers or Yaktrax might work for you.

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: Re: Crossing Snow Fields on 02/04/2006 11:23:15 MST Print View

I think Brian robinson used some sort of screw, that he screwed into the soles of his shoes instead of crampons on the AT section of the triple crown

it says on his gearlist:

Sheet metal screws (#6 hex-head, 3/8") & nut driver
(instead of crampons)

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Screw Shoe on 02/04/2006 11:36:12 MST Print View

RF writes:

>> Sheet metal screws (#6 hex-head, 3/8") & nut driver

I've had great success with this technique for Winter trail running on ice. The screws provide good traction. They are ultralight *and* inexpensive. But of course, they don't keep the snow out of your shoes, or provide any floatation. I'm not running along a corniced ridgeline at 9000ft, either. ;-)

Here is the procedure I followed.

Cheers,

-Mike

Edited by MikeMartin on 02/04/2006 11:41:48 MST.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
Re: Re: Screw Shoe on 02/04/2006 12:31:23 MST Print View

If you do decide to add screws to your shoes are you left with screw holes when you hit dry land? I've also had good luck with instep crampons.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Re: Re: Screw Shoe on 02/04/2006 12:41:19 MST Print View

Larry writes:

>> are you left with screw holes when you hit dry land?

The holes are nearly self-sealing -- dirt and grime don't seem to get in. But, it's probably not completely waterproof if you screw in too deep. And, if your shoes have a WP/B bootie, it will likely get punctured.

Edited by MikeMartin on 02/04/2006 14:30:42 MST.

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Crossing Snow Fields on 02/04/2006 12:52:20 MST Print View

Campmor sells a
bag of 50 replacements screws
for the Stabilicers. I went to them for my trail runners as the screw head was a little larger than what I found at my local Hardware Store.

Scott Peterson
(scottalanp) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Crossing Snow Fields on 02/04/2006 13:39:46 MST Print View

Stabilicers look like they offer traction and a little more "float" potential than just screwing something into the sole of my shoes.

If I used these in conjunction with gators, I would still get my feet wet since my shoes are the breathable variety. Can anyone think of anything better than 2 13 gallon trash sacks to put over my shoes as a way to minimize the water absorbtion? Obviously I will have the condensation to deal with, but if I am only in the snow for a few hundred yards at a time...that should not be too bad.

Thanks for the help!

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Crossing Snow Fields on 02/04/2006 13:50:17 MST Print View

Scott, Check out he weight of the Stabilicers. They have a heavy version (I have them) and now a lighter version. Still heavy compaired to the screws.

I also have a pair of the new Steel - Katahoola's 23.02oz and they fit my trail runners great..

Edited by bfornshell on 02/04/2006 13:54:18 MST.

Scott Peterson
(scottalanp) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Crossing Snow Fields on 02/04/2006 14:06:33 MST Print View

I could not determine the weight of the stabilicers from the sites I went to. It is a shame to carry 2lbs of foot gear to cross what may be a half mile of snow...but the other option is a long route that involves probably the better part of 7000 to 8000 feet up and down in one day...or really nasty brush.

Now I am wondering if I could not make a light-weight stabilicer rip-off. Or I could use the screws and get my feet wet. I am fairly certain I can make a fire at the end of the day...which would help dry out.

The Katahoolas are the best option...but I would have to use them and sell them on e bay after...can't have $120 tied up in crampons I would rarely use... got 3 mouths to feed!!!

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: To Build a Fire on 02/04/2006 14:12:30 MST Print View

Scott writes:

>> I am fairly certain I can make a fire at the end of the day...

Ahh, to build a fire...

Scott Peterson
(scottalanp) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: To Build a Fire on 02/04/2006 14:18:56 MST Print View

He started to untie his moccasins. They were coated with ice; the thick German socks were like sheaths of iron halfway to the knees; and the moccasin strings were like rods of steel all twisted and knotted as by some conflagration. For a moment he tugged with his numb fingers, then, realizing the folly of it, he drew his sheath-knife.

Let's hope not!

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: Re: Crossing Snow Fields on 02/04/2006 14:28:23 MST Print View

what about a Crescent Moon Bootie and screw shoe combo?

they have an open bottom so you dont have to screw through the neoprene

Edited by ryanf on 02/04/2006 14:30:01 MST.

Scott Peterson
(scottalanp) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: Re: Crossing Snow Fields on 02/04/2006 14:59:23 MST Print View

I like this thinking Ryan. Pretty cost effective...light weight....and seems to suit my needs.

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: Crossing Snow Fields on 02/04/2006 15:21:33 MST Print View

Keep in mind that it is impossible to give a satisfactory answer to your question. A lot will depend on conditions when you actually reach the snowfields in question.

There is also a heck of a difference between 9000 feet in California and 9000 feet in, say, British Columbia. There is also quite a lot of room in interpretation of the term "large". The other question I'd have is how steep are these snowfields?

Having said that, I've done quite a bit of on-snow travel in the mountains of Oregon, Washington, California, and British Columbia on running shoes. Sometimes if I am expecting well-frozen snow I will take Katoolas or something similar. Generally I just go with the shoes and hope for the best. In a few cases that's forced me into some awkward detours, but 99 percent of the time it has worked out fine for me.

Traversing a snow slope is an important subset of "sidehilling". Regardless of footwear, sidehilling is more tiring than walking on a flat surface and produces more wear and tear on ankles, knees, and hips.

Scott Peterson
(scottalanp) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: Crossing Snow Fields on 02/04/2006 15:39:48 MST Print View

Think Trinity Alps in mid July. Reports from the folks who live in the area (at lower elevations) are that it has rained quite a bit this winter. That said, even their level of experience (which is extensive in the area) leaves them to say you just never know what it would look like until you come up onto it.
From looking at the topos, it seems riding the ridge between Grizzly Lake and Papoose Lake requires slightly more than 2 miles of "sidehilling". The snowfields look to be 200 to 500 yards in length, but the potential to skirt some of them could be there too. You just cannot tell everything you need to know about terrain from 7.5 min, maps. But that is why you plan as best you can...and create a backup plan. I would like to have some kind of snow protection if I do choose to try the of trail crossing. Since it won't be deep fresh snow...or at a tremendous angle...I think the neoprene and screws would offer that next level of function that could make the difference.

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Crossing Snow Fields on 02/04/2006 15:40:06 MST Print View

I am glad to see that Cresent Moon has come out with their "Booties". It is about time someone finally make some of these.

Full Shoe-Insulated Gaiters for Trail Runners


My version first made in Jan 2004. They were seconds Gore-Tex and Thinsulate and worked Ok. Keep my feet warm in my TNF Ultra 102's. I was not able to test them below about 20 degrees "F".

When Ryan talked about his light weight Neoprene overshoes I ordered some SBR which stands for Synthetic Blend Rubber and is considered "land use Neoprene. It is 2mm. I couldn't find any 2mm Neoprene. I intend to use my old pattern and make another set of full-cover gaiters out of the SBR and see how that works.

The SBR came from Outdoor Wilderness Frabrics.

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Crossing Snow Fields on 02/05/2006 08:40:46 MST Print View

scott writes:

"I could not determine the weight of the stabilicers from the sites I went to."

Here are some weights, all in size medium:

stabilicers,24.6 oz.
stabilicer sports, 12 oz.
yaktrak pro, 5 oz.
hex screws, less than 2 oz. #8x3/8 also work well and give you a slightly larger head.

Neoprene overbooties used for winter cycling also work well over trail runners. You can find them now on clearance at Performance Bicycle for $20. If you go with these, you'll have to size up quite a bit to get a good fit over trail runners.

Disclaimer: I've used all of the above for winter hiking in the lower elevations of the Colorado Rockies, not for sidehilling in alpine regions of the Alps. YMMV.

Edited by Dondo on 02/05/2006 09:13:49 MST.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
crossing snow fields on 02/14/2006 08:08:08 MST Print View

To keep your feet warm.
Plastic bread sacks, one inside and one outside of
your insulating sock with a dab of duct tape over
the top of the instep on each to keep them from
sliding down or pulling up (and puncturing at the
toes). You can wear them for days if you are careful.
I have done this while wearing running shoes to
climb several glaciated peaks.

If the snow field is steep and has poor runnout, you don't want to depend solely (pun) on crampons.
An ice axe or change in route is the answer. Even with a good runnout, an axe will let you cut steps
and avoid having to take the crampons.

Other considerations

Wear clothing with a textured surface, slick nylon
is not the way to go, those old wool knickers and
sweaters did a great job of slowing a slide. Take off
your silnylon poncho or quantum wind shirt and pants to cross.

If you are with a group, just one axe can be carried for cutting steps, or as an anchor with a rope for belay etc. in less extreme cases

It takes some judgement at the time, just like
stream crossings you have to be ready to abandon
your route for a safer one if things look bad.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Re: Crossing Snow Fields on 03/10/2006 07:48:42 MST Print View

What kind of nut driver did Brian use? I am having trouble getting the screws in and do not want to buy a drill. What tool should I get?

I heard from Brian Robinson so got my answer.

Edited by jshann on 03/10/2006 10:19:47 MST.