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Changing spring conditions (sun to snow)
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Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Changing spring conditions (sun to snow) on 10/25/2011 10:09:58 MDT Print View

During spring, one can encounter a clear trail on the south side of a slope but snow obliterated trail on the north side. I've postholed a trail in front of a group of women but a little worried about postholing solo and potentially breaking a leg, even on normally well-travelled trails.

What are some lightweight/ultralight ways to counter this? .... Snowshoes? Microspikes? Big bad gaiters?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
spring postholing on 10/25/2011 10:54:36 MDT Print View

If daytime temps will be high, and/or you'll have to get into the snowy slopes in the afternoon, snowshoes can be worth the weight. I like smaller ones with aggressive crampons (eg MSR Lightning). Depending on slope steepness and runout, crampons can be a good idea, and potentially an ice axe as well. I don't like Microspikes in this application, as you'll often get an inch or two of corn atop hard snow. Proper crampons with hold in both.

Being familiar with how terrain holds snow (aspect, avy paths, areas prone to windloading, etc) will give you a decent idea of what conditions can be expected. Check area snotel sites, plot them on a map, and extrapolate to get an idea of snow depth.

A complex and fun topic.