Forum Index » Philosophy & Technique » How necessary are poles with snowshoes?


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Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
How necessary are poles with snowshoes? on 02/17/2011 20:56:01 MST Print View

The mountains in Southern California are getting a bunch of snow now, and I'm planning to buy snowshoes and try it for the first time.

When hiking on dirt, my firm religious conviction is that trekking poles are the work of the devil. I have never felt the need for them.

How necessary are poles when snowshoeing? Are they no more and no less necessary than when hiking? Somewhat more necessary? Completely indispensable?

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: How necessary are poles with snowshoes? on 02/17/2011 20:57:23 MST Print View

But if trekking poles are the work of the devil, wouldn't they just melt the snow? That would suck.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: How necessary are poles with snowshoes? on 02/17/2011 21:16:57 MST Print View

I've been cross country skiing with a few snowshoers around. There seems to be much less need for poles with the snowshoes. However, it seems like quite a few snowshoers use one single pole. Some don't use any at all, and very few use two poles.

All that assumes that you've got an open route like an unplowed jeep road. As you get into broken hills, you might have more need for two poles.

Also, it seems that snowshoers use their pole more vertically, so a slightly shorter pole might be called for. Cross country skiers typically use their poles tipped forward at an angle, so their poles are slightly longer.

Incidentally, there is a point of etiquette. It is considered impolite for a snowshoer to walk over ski tracks if there is space to stay off the tracks.

--B.G.--

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
hooves on 02/17/2011 21:25:14 MST Print View

Thanks, Bob and Douglas, for the info!

Douglas, all I can say is that it is indeed a soul-chilling experience to come across the distinctive tracks, which consist of cloven hooves on the inside and trekking-pole tips on the outside.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: How necessary are poles with snowshoes? on 02/17/2011 22:13:11 MST Print View

Over rough terrain, I find 2 carbon fibre poles very handy.

Cheers

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
poles and shoes on 02/17/2011 23:33:45 MST Print View

I've never ever seen, nor heard from from anyone other than BG, a snowshoer using one pole. (A lurk?!)

If you're off a broken trail and dealing with variable snow, I'd say that poles (two) are almost vital.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
arrest me baby on 02/18/2011 03:09:43 MST Print View

if youre on a slope with a bad fall potential ... how will you self arrest without poles or an axe?

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Two Poles on 02/18/2011 05:40:31 MST Print View

I'm usually in rough terrain but I also carry two and I would disagree with Roger on using CF. I would use a stronger vs lighter pole. I hit a void nearly a completely hidden log and snapped a lightweight pole like a twig. This is the time to take cheaper poles.

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
Re: arrest me baby on 02/18/2011 08:27:20 MST Print View

"if youre on a slope with a bad fall potential ... how will you self arrest without poles or an axe?"
Hmm...well, you can't self-arrest with poles, either. I'd want an ice ax in that situation, not poles.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
Completely indispensable on 02/18/2011 09:10:53 MST Print View

Clearly, trekking poles are not "completely indispensable" when hiking with snowshoes. I like using poles, but only really to maintain control on steep ascents and descents in snowy conditions. If anything, snowfall "smooths" out most trails, making poles less important for me on flatter trails.

If you don't like using poles during the summer months, my guess is that you won't like using them during the winter months.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: arrest me baby on 02/18/2011 10:40:15 MST Print View

"Hmm...well, you can't self-arrest with poles, either. "

Ben, I guess you don't get out much in the winter.

A proper ice axe is far preferred for doing a self-arrest, but I've done many a self-arrest when skiing with ordinary poles.

If I hadn't, my crumpled body would have been found in the spring thaw many years ago.

--B.G.--

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: arrest me baby on 02/18/2011 11:09:03 MST Print View

+1 bob. Two weeks ago on an hard pack, steep hill I saved myself from a bath in the creek at the bottom of the hill. I was wearing MSR Denali's and the snow in the spot I stepped was so firm the shoes had no traction and I had a fun few seconds.
Interestingly I there were 5 others in front of me who happened not to step in the spot I did.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Paul Ramer's poles on 02/18/2011 13:03:27 MST Print View

"Hmm...well, you can't self-arrest with poles, either. "

Actually, you can self-arrest with poles. Back in the late '70s, the late Paul Ramer devised a slick snowshoe/ski pole that had an arrest handle. Google "Paul Ramer" and you'be be able to see what they look like.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
arrest me again baby !!! on 02/18/2011 13:08:29 MST Print View

Hmm...well, you can't self-arrest with poles, either. I'd want an ice ax in that situation, not poles.

skiers do it all the time (img is of some random person, not mine) ... axe is better ... but you may not always be carrying one

i suspect that UL poles may snap however if you look at the bend in the poles

IMO its a technique everyone should know ... especially those darn ULers who dont carry an ixe axe ;)





http://www.epicski.com/wiki/self-arrest-techniques

Edited by bearbreeder on 02/18/2011 13:11:12 MST.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: arrest me again baby !!! on 02/18/2011 13:33:36 MST Print View

Eric, good pics. But why didn't the guy just set a good edge? He would have either stopped or popped up and continued on, trying to look real cool and make his friends think he planned it that way.
Of course it doesn't always work out like you hoped.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Paul Ramer's poles on 02/18/2011 13:43:55 MST Print View

Black Diamond Whippet self-arrest poles are an option.

http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en-us/shop/ski/ski-poles/whippet-self-arrest-pole

To the OP: poles are handy to necessary in steep terrain and in deep, fresh snow, especially when breaking trail. And big baskets are a boon in new snow as well.

In spring, once snow's consolidated I can get away without them so long as it's relatively flat. But again, for stream crossing, snow bridges, skirting tree holes, that "third leg" can be the difference between getting through and getting hurt.

Cheers,

Rick

Jerry Cowan
(krazyone44) - F

Locale: Pac NW
Winter = poles on 02/18/2011 15:15:43 MST Print View

I never use trekking poles in non winter conditions, find them annoying. However, in the winter I never leave home without them. Didn't figure I would need them in winter until the first time I stumbled and fell over into the snow with a pack on. Good luck getting back up to your feet. I've watched many a times friends without poles struggle trying to get back to their feet for several minutes before finally asking me for a hand. Imagine post-holing into snow but with your hands. Trekking poles prevent me from falling in the first place 90% of the time and when I do stumble help me get quickly back to my feet.

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
self-arrest on 02/18/2011 17:00:40 MST Print View

Cool pictures, Eric. I stand corrected.

But.

Self-arrest is hard enough with an ice ax. Many people learn how to self-arrest with an ice ax, and when the time comes they don't succeed. The guy in the picture is wearing skis, so it makes sense that what he's carrying is ski poles and that's what he has to self-arrest with. That doesn't mean I want to have to attempt self-arrest with poles.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
whadda u have on 02/18/2011 19:19:58 MST Print View

ben ... yr absolutely correct ... if you think a fall will be bad use an axe

but then we dont always carry an axe in hand ahead of time ....

id say that 90% of recreational users dont carry an axe even on hills ... pure wild observation on my part ... but im usually the only one with an axe

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: whadda u have on 02/18/2011 19:27:29 MST Print View

Axes are soo yuppie! ;)