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Tips: Ice & Mixed

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ICE ROUTE TECHNIQUES...
Equipment to carry at all times:
i) Wear a helmet at all times, as some ice invariably gets hacked down by the leader.
ii) A length of tape or cord should be carried for belays, especially Abalakov systems.
iii) Prussics should be carried in case of any sack hauling, and to back up abseils.
iv) A figure 8 is best for belaying, especially when the ropes start to become frozen.
v) Twin ropes should be used if at all possible, as many ice climbs are down the route that has just been climbed, and so the twins enable you to descend full pitches.
Key techniques used on this type of route:
i) Make sure that you only move one placement (crampon or ice axe), at a time. This will ensure that your balance is as good as possible, and that you are very secure.
ii) You should always unsure the quality of your placements both in terms of the structure of the ice, and also of your feet and axe positions. Remember that your feet must be at ninety degrees to the ice, and horizontal. This will ensure that both front points are well engaged, and by locking your heel down, the second row of points will touch the ice, thereby taking the pressure off your calf muscles.
Alpine tips for this type of route:
i) If someone else has climbed the route before you, it is easy to save a lot of energy and effort by hooking (placing your picks in the slots made by previous placements)
ii) Don't re-use ice screw holes, as someone may have fallen on a screw placed in them and so may be weakened or fractured. Place your screw at least a foot away.
Safety Issues to consider:
i) When someone warns of falling ice, by shouting "ice", don't look up, look ahead. Each year many people get their noses broken etc by staring upwards for the ice.
ii) A lot of the ice gear (picks, screws etc) are very sharp. Protect your clothing and other people in lifts by using screw caps & pick covers (either rubber or hose pipe).

SNOW ROUTE TECHNIQUES...
Equipment to carry at all times:
i) Mountaineering ice axe, which should have a straight shaft, no leashes (as they stop you from swapping your axe into the uphill hand on every turn), and be of a suitable length (touching your ankle bone, when held normally in your hand).
Key techniques used on this type of route:
i) The most important two techniques for this type of route are a good crampon technique, and an excellent rhythm. These two in combination will keep you moving very steadily, and very mechanically. Once moving like this you will be able to forecast your timings quite accurately, and also be safe due to efficient technique.
ii) Avalanche forecasting skills are always necessary whilst on any type snow route. You should also be proficient in looking for crevasses on snow faces, and due to this you must be well practised at crevasse rescue techniques on wet glaciers.
Alpine tips for this type of route:
i) Check out your route the evening before, and get an early start to get the best snow conditions. You will have memorised the route, so will know where you are going in the darkness. If you loose your way, return to the last reference point and try again.
ii) Always take more water and sun cream than you think you will need, as well as good glacier glasses. This way you minimise the effects of the sun as it hits snow.
Safety Issues to consider:
i) Long sleeved tops protect your arms in case of a fall. Many people underestimate the abrasive effects of snow in event of sliding, which can cause serious injuries.

GLACIER TECHNIQUES...
Equipment to carry at all times:
i) Crevasse rescue kit: ice screws, slings, prussic loops, karabiners, pulleys etc.
ii) Crampons and Ice Axe, as the surface conditions change throughout the day.
iii) Sun cream / screen: sun is often reflected from the surface, and it can be hot.
iv) Due to the heat, it is always worth carrying lots of fluids to keep well hydrated.
v) Ski pole / probe in order to look for crevasses and to test all the snow bridges.
Key techniques used on this type of route:
i) On dry glaciers it is safer to move un-roped, as you can see all the crevasses.
ii) On wet glaciers you should be roped up at all times in case of any crevasses.
iii) When moving together, there should be no slack in the rope between climbers.
iv) If there are only two on a rope, each climber should carry enough coils on them that could reach their partner in event of a crevasse rescue being necessary.
Alpine tips for this type of route:
i) Always wear long sleeved tops to protect your arms in case of a crevasse fall.
ii) Wear gaiters, as these stop baggy trousers getting caught in crampons, which could generate a fall, which would be hard to control on a dry glacier surface.
iii) Katabatic winds are often very cold, so it is worth carrying a windproof layer.
Safety Issues to consider:
i) All climbers should carry safety equipment as it may be them who require it.
ii) Keep well away of supra-glacial water courses, and associated sink holes (moulin).
iii) Wear a helmet at all times, even when approaching a glacier on the moraines.
iv) The rocks in the Mont Blanc massif are mineral rich, and so the glacial meltwater often has a high mineral content and so should not be drunk even with Puritabs.

MIXED ROUTE TECHNIQUES...
Equipment to carry at all times:
i) You should carry all the equipment that you would carry for an ice climb, as well as a basic Alpine rock kit. Slings are always needed lots, as rock spikes tend to be frequent and rock protection may be usable alongside the sections of ice.
ii) A file may be necessary, as your picks will become blunt if they are used on rock.
Key techniques used on this type of route:
i) The key to climbing the route in a good time is a good choice and use of equipment, and also being able to climb rock in ice kit (crampons), or snow without crampons.
ii) You must be able to look for and select the best route to protect you climb, taking advantage of ways you can lay the rope, using natural protection to assist you.
iii) Be aware that a wide range of protection styles will be necessary (rock and ice).
Alpine tips for this type of route:
i) Often it is a good idea to carry one technical and one mountaineering axe, as this gives the most versatility on a route. If difficult, the leader could use both technicals.
ii) Practise the variety of protection types, from Abalakov's to Friends, Pitons to Nuts.
iii) Always ask for information on the route conditions, so you can select the best rack.
Safety Issues to consider:
i) Rock fall is a key consideration on a mixed route, especially later on during the day.
ii) The rimaye at the bottom of the climb, may be problematic to cross both on the ascent, and on the descent. You should get advice before you set off to the hut.
iii) Note which way the climb is orientated, so that you are aware when conditions will start to deteriorate due to the heat from the rising sun / heat of the day.

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