HAMS at St. Mary’s Glacier

On Saturday we spent most of the day at St. Mary’s Glacier with the High Altitude Mountaineering School.  It was our first outing after a couple class room sessions, and the main areas of focus for the day were practicing self-arrest from every position imaginable (with crampons), how to build bomber snow anchors, glacier rope teams and running belays, and z-pulleys.  It was a ton of fun, and I especially liked the self-arrest part, although I am a little sore today from throwing myself down the hill as hard as I could over and over.  The weather was just perfect, and I think we really lucked out because usually the area is known for its cold, unforgiving wind.  Afterwards we all grabbed a bite to eat at Tommy Knockers in Idaho Springs. We’re learning a ton about climbing glaciated peaks in this class and also meeting lots of other climbers with similar interests. It’s a pretty fun time all around. 


4 thoughts on “HAMS at St. Mary’s Glacier

  • January 28, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Self-arrest is the technique of stopping a fall by digging in your ice-pick into the snow or ice and other parts of body like feet. Its also used on rope teams if somebody falls into a crevasse. If that happens, the rest of the team self-arrests to stop the falling victim and begin the rescue. Basically you roll onto the pick of the ice-axe and dig in with all your strength until you stop falling. It best to practice on a steep, semi-slick slope. The trickiest one is if you are fall backwards on your back for which you have to roll to the pick or dig it in and kind of flip your feet downhill so you end up on your stomach.

  • January 29, 2013 at 8:19 am

    Another question:what are bomber snow anchors? I had the same question as Beth about s.arrests, so thanks for explaining. So nice you didn’t have wind, but it would have probably been better practice.

  • January 29, 2013 at 9:07 am

    A bomber snow anchor is a little bit of slang for a solid anchor you put into the snow that will not move, so you can use it for things like attaching a rope or belaying or rappelling. The types of anchors we were building were using snow pickets (2 foot aluminum bar with 4 or 5 holes to attach some webbing). You just stick these vertically in the snow. Also were were building deadman anchors where you bury something like a snow picket with a sling of rope attached a couple feet under the snow and perpendicular to the slope.

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