TECHNICAL GEAR FOR SKI-MOUNTAINEERING: A BASIC KIT
In a “complete” ski-mountaineering day, including some sections of ice & rock climbing and glacier, which is the minimun set of special gear recommended ?
In the picture here below the minimun set of technical items is shown, but beware, the following are also to be included: all common (group) items such as the rope; obvious gear such as skis, poles, skins, ski crampons, crampons, ice-axe, harness; the appropriate clothing; map, gps, compass; avalanche gear (beacon, probe, shovel); a first aid medical kit; some extra devices in case of technical climb sections, such as nuts and friends and ice screws; all the necessary equipment in case of bivouac.
Let’s look in details at each item shown in the picture.
#1. Mammut RescYou (optional and as alternative to # 4-6-7-8-11)
The Mammut RescYou special device may be taken along as a substitute of the pulleys in the double Mariner crevasse rescue method. It is an useful tool for the beginner, owing to its easy and intuitive use; or for the mountain guide who acts alone (without help rom others) in a crevasse rescue situation.
#2. Glacier lanyard
A diam. 5 mm, 1.5 long lanyard (depending on how is made) is what you need to make a glacier lanyard, for safe glacier walking. (In a roped-up team, the glacier lanyard is made as to stop the fall of a teammate in a crevasse, by using the ice-axe as a temporary anchor point, then transferring the load of the rope to the final anchor set in the crevasse rescue rigging).
#3. Screw carabiners
They are used to belay a first or second, in rappelling, in a crevasse rescue situation. The HMS type (“pear shape”) is recommended, with safety lock, and H cross-section (this feature increases the friction of the rope and therefore the breaking effect, especially important with small diameter ropes). We would suggest 5 carabiners per person. For some manoeuvres it is useful to have at least two identical carabiners.
#4. High yield pulley (Petzl)
#6 self-locking pulley (Petzl Mini Traxion)
#7 return pulley
These devices, although they may seem of specalist’s use, are indeed necessary for the crevasse rescue with the well known double Mariner technique. These pulleys help to reduce the overall friction of the rigging system, which is essential if the rescuer is alone. The Mini Traxion works well also with small diameter ropes (upto 6 mm).
#5. Ice screws
We suggest at least two ice screws per person; the ones made of stainless steel and with rotating crank are to be preferred. One screw should be long enough (min. 18 cm) to be used to make an anchor on ice with the Abalakov technique.
#8. Diam. 4 mm lanyard for crevasse rescue
This is used to make a self-locking knot (Prusik or similar) on the rope under load in the crevasse rescue manoeuvre. A 60 cm long lanyard is enough. We prefer the ones made of nylon, instead of kevlar or dyneema, because they provide more friction on the rope.
#9. Diam. 6 mm lanyard for rappelling
This is used to make the Machard self-locking knot as a safety measure when rappelling. A one meter long lanyard is generally enough, but depends on how many turns around the rope are necessary to get a safe locking. As for #8, here too we prefer nylon.
#10. Petzl Ti-bloc
The famous Ti-bloc is a great and super-light self-locking device to be considered for all emergency situations. However, it may quickly wear the rope’s sheath and is not safe beyond a given load threshold. It is mandatory to test it prior to definitely adopting it on field.
#11. Diam. 7 mm lanyard for crevasse rescue
This is used in the double Mariner crevasse rescue technique to make the main rope return loop with force reduction effect. A diam. 7 mm (nylon) or 5 mm (kevlar) rope 3 m long is ideal. It may be used also for the Abalakov anchoring.
#12. Diam. 6 mm longe
The “longe” is used in rappelling (when the load is transferred from the anchor point to the rappelling device) and is best prepared from a 6 mm lanyard, 2 m long (but depends on how the longe is made).
#13. Belay / rappelling device
We suggest a belay device such as the Petzl Reverso 4 or similar, to be used with single or twin rope, in the three situations of: belaying the first on pitch, recovering the second, crevasse rescue.
#14 – 15. Slings for anchoring
We suggest at least two nylon band slings, one small (60 cm) and one large (120 cm); the latter being useful for anchoring directly to rock spikes , or to join two anchor points in an anchoring set-up.
What is written in this document is the result of the experience of our staff and collaborators, and of the recommendations provided by the producers of the gear.
However, due to the extreme variability of the many parameters that impact the effectiveness of the tools and devices in the field, safety cannot be guaranteed in any way. It is advisable to test personally, in a safe terrain, the tools and devices here described, before using them in a mountain outing. Only a careful check carried out personally with the given items, and in the specific situation, can provide a minimum guarantee of safety.
In any case, we recommend always to refer to the technical manuals provided by the gear manufacturers.
Non-professionals are advised not to use the items described here on their own, but to possiblly ask a IFMGA certified mountain guide for assistance.
This document is for information only, therefore neither the authors nor Avalco Travel assume any liability in the event of any damage or accident related to the use of the items mentioned here.