Protection for mixed terrain

Previous chapters have detailed the types of protection used on rock, snow, and ice. Mix them all together, however, for winter climbing and there are some additional considerations.

Given a choice between a rock anchor and a snow anchor, the rock anchor is usually the one to use. It's relatively easy to check the soundness of rock anchors; not so with most snow or ice anchors. Even a good anchor in snow or ice has less strength than one well-placed in rock.

You may have to do a good bit of digging and grooming to clear away snow and ice in order to place a piece of protection in the rock. Your hands can knock off powdery snow, but it will probably take an ice axe to clear hard snow or ice. If a crack is filled with ice, a piton may be the only possible method of protection. But keep in mind that a piton scar made in winter is just as damaging as one made in summer. Always use the least damaging yet secure anchor.

Ice screws and pickets used for protection in mixed terrain sometimes go in only partway because the snow or ice is shallow. In this situation, tie off to the protection at the surface of the snow or ice to minimize the danger that the protection will be levered out (fig. 15-4). Don't try to force an ice screw farther in than it can go, because this useless effort could shatter the ice.

Fig. ยก5-4. Ice screw placement in thin ice over rock

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