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How to Cross a Spring Snowfield

Cross the steeps safely and avoid avalanches with these guide-approved tips.
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Stop Any Fall with Self-Arrest
On gentle slopes, head straight down instead of traversing diagonally, says Councell. On steep descents, switchback down, plunging your heels into the snow in a rhythm and keeping your knees slightly bent. Hold your axe in the uphill hand and plant the shaft for balance and self-belay.

Feet first on your back Hold the axe diagonally across your chest—one hand gripping the shaft and the other gripping the head, near your ear. Roll toward the pick and flip onto your stomach. Press all of your weight onto the pick to dig it into the snow and kick your toes into the slope to stop.

Headfirst on your stomach Reach forward and to the side and dig the pick into the snow. Pivot around the axe head and dig in with your toes.

Headfirst on your back Dig the pick into the snow at your hip. Twist onto your stomach and let your legs swing around to get in position to stop.

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