Survive This: Stuck on a Scree Slope

When you're slipping and sliding, don't let your partners help you. Learn how to climb yourself to safety.

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Predicament: While traversing a gully, you lose your footing and slip down a steep slope. The good news: You’ve stopped sliding. The bad news: You’re losing your grip.

Lifeline: First, catch your breath and assess the situation. Don’t act until your adrenaline rush has subsided. Survey your surroundings to determine the safest route to safety. Look for lichen-covered boulders–these are more likely to be anchored to the slope. Grassy patches of dirt offer good footing, along with larger stones and roots. Avoid areas layered in loose gravel. Remember that the best path to safety might not be above you, but to your side.

Before you move, make sure you’re facing uphill. Kick steps with your toes and test each handhold and foothold. Edge your feet into the hill and maintain at least three points of contact with the ground. If you’re carrying an ice axe, use it to carve steps or as an anchor. As you ascend, balance your weight over your feet; leaning too far into the slope might make your feet slip out from under you. Don’t let partners descend to help you; many climbing injuries result from ill-fated rescue attempts. Instead, they can dangle a rope.