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USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Snow conditions make challenging use of snow shoes on 02/20/2013 11:20:04 MST Print View

I've mostly used my 9 year old Atlas 1030's on flat ground, some side hilling etc., in some powder and hard pack. This last weekend I was met with sun softened snow, crusty snow, crusty snow with hard snow underneath. It might have been ok, except for the steepness, where crampons would have been nice. At one point, I almost turned back as I could not get enough traction and fell forward and then coming down, had to hit some rocks to make my way for a short distance until the mountain leveled off some. Quite the snow camping trip, we did set up camp before attempting the steeper mountain., I was with 3 other younger souls. We were in Desolation Wilderness by Cathederal Lake, trying for Mt Tallac. I've only been up there once and that was 12-15 years ago in the summer. I now know the snow route and know I could make it over the ridge to Gilmore with crampons. Every little bit of experience adds up.
Duane

Paul Mason
(dextersp1) - F
Crampons & This on 02/20/2013 12:21:41 MST Print View

I have crampons & these - depends upon conditions

http://hillsound.com/hillsound-product/trail-crampon/

Marc Eldridge
(meld) - MLife

Locale: The here and now.
Re: Snow conditions make challenging use of snow shoes on 02/20/2013 16:30:36 MST Print View

Duane,
Do you have any pics and a description of your trip last weekend? From where we were, Winnemucca Lake, we could see Mt Tallac in the distance. We used Kahtoola Microspikes with great success on some pretty steep stuff. The Lightning Ascents worked well on the side hill and straight up but the Northern Lites Backcountry were marginal straight up and almost useless side hill.

Edited by meld on 02/20/2013 16:39:57 MST.

Richard Fischel
(RICKO) - F
classic example of the right tool for the right job on 02/20/2013 18:26:48 MST Print View

eric chan i think posted an article a while back about snowshoe related accidents. sounds like you were a couple of steps away from being a statistic. more than once i've found myself switching between msr evo's and 12 point crampons when an assent/decent has had mixed conditions. it's really a tuff desicion in the field as to what to do. as good as the msr's are with their cleats, it's not a really good substitute for full-on crampons. Down-climbing or steep side-hills in snowshoes, no matter the brand can be pretty hairy. i too have been steps away from disaster.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Snow conditions make challenging use of snow shoes on 02/20/2013 18:35:36 MST Print View

Marc,
I have a bunch of pics over on Classic Camp Stoves, Action Gallery section.

Yep, I was thinking may have bit off more than we needed. We were all adults, they could move on or go down, which was about where I was at. I was the only one with Atlas shoes, everyone else had some version of MSR's. Gabe had on some Neos also which were a hindrance on the steep stuff. Andy had some double boots, he kicked in going down which helped me at times going down until I had to head for the rocks briefly a few times. Excellent views up there.
Duane

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re: Snow conditions make challenging use of snow shoes on 02/21/2013 09:50:32 MST Print View

I have Atlas 1030's as well. From watching others, MSR Ascents seem to offer quite a bit more traction. The Atlas shoes have never been so bad that I was willing to spend the money to upgrade.

I definitely switch to crampons when the slope/firmness/exposure make a slip likely or dangerous. The worst conditions have been with a hard crust over soft soup. Snowshoes sketchy on top, but boots/crampons punch through into the soup.

As always in the mountains, your route often needs to adjust to match conditions. Sometimes the safe route is not the easier one.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
Re: Re: Snow conditions make challenging use of snow shoes on 02/21/2013 20:00:26 MST Print View

How do you think these step-ins would have worked?

http://www.kahtoola.com/mountain.php

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Snow conditions make challenging use of snow shoes on 02/21/2013 21:20:49 MST Print View

Those would have been better than the bit of crampon my Atlas' have. At least with those I think you could punch in better if needed to get thru the top layer when the surface was not all hard or ice. On the steep stuff but not super steep, if the surface was loose, my snowshoes slid downhill and I'd fall to my knees/gloved hands.

Rick, I see you have a XTherm pad, has it gotten any quieter?
Duane

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
Re: Snow conditions make challenging use of snow shoes on 02/22/2013 01:56:58 MST Print View

Duane I make it a point to be pretty sleepy for bedtime, either from exhaustion or thru chemistry. I also sleep in a mummy postion without tossing or turning very often so I am not disturbed by any noise the xtherm makes.

You might want to look at snowshoes with popup heel risers to help steady you on the steeps.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Snow conditions make challenging use of snow shoes on 02/22/2013 08:59:06 MST Print View

Thank you Rick for the Xtherm info. It may not be a deal breaker.
I'll keep my Atlas shoes, hard to find the funds for something that still works good enough, just need to be more selective next time on routes/adventures.
Duane

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Lack of traction on 04/01/2013 20:16:05 MDT Print View

I have Atlas 800 series 'shoes and slid 40 meters down a steep mountainside while using them. I landed against a tree, injuring my shoulder.

THEN I bought a pair of MSR Lightning Ascent 'shoes and never had another traction problem on any surface, icy, steep or otherwise. Best 'shoes for traction ever, IMHO.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
Re: Lack of traction on 04/01/2013 20:54:53 MDT Print View

I am using the Tubbs FLEX TRK this season as our Japan Alps alpine terrain is "unkind" to aluminum framed/plastic decked snowshoes. Lighter weight than the Lightning Ascent even with their composite unibody frame. They don't offer much flotation but I am not blazing any deep powder trails either.