Switchback up softer spring slopes by kicking flat, evenly spaced steps into the snow with the toe of your boot. Prevent a serious fall with a self-belay: Holding your axe in your uphill hand, plunge the spike and shaft into the snow. Take two steps forward. When you’re in a balanced position—uphill leg bent in front of you, downhill leg straight—pull out the shaft and replant. To turn, plunge the spike into the snow and plant your feet in a level, duck-footed stance, facing up. Switch hands and swing the new uphill foot forward in the new direction before moving the axe up. Run into a short icy section? Use your ice axe, not your feet, to chop a few steps, says Councell.
How to Cross a Spring SnowfieldCross the steeps safely and avoid avalanches with these guide-approved tips.