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Last week, on a solo ice-climbing trip in the Northeast, Kyle Harris had a very close call.
He was climbing Green Chasm (WI 3) in New Hampshire’s Crawford Notch: a long gully with a lot of snow climbing and a few steps of ice. “I was getting a little over confident in my feet and didn’t engage fully with my left foot,” Harris wrote to Climbing in an email. “Once I stood up, I knew I wanted to go to the right and needed to get my tools to that side. After going over my right hand I realized it would tangle me, so I let go to pass the tool/lanyard through and, at that moment, that poorly-placed left foot came back to get me.”
Harris fell backwards, somersaulting once, before he was able to self arrest in the steep snow with his ice axe. “I would say obviously my lesson learned is to pay better attention to my feet, however I initially shared the video because of the self-arrest,” Harris said. Though not an adequate substitution for good footwork while free soloing, Harris said self-arresting is an important mountain skill and should be “practiced until the action is second nature.” We agree—though a rope would have helped, too!
Happy Friday, and be safe out there this weekend.
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