150lb Crusts & The Alpine Crawl

| February 11, 2010 | 13 Comments

One of the more frustrating booting scenarios is when you encounter crusts which are almost supportable… but not quite.  Since I weigh in at about 165lbs with all of my ski gear, I think refer to these crusts by the amount of weight they will support. One-hundred and fifty pound crust is my nemesis as it is just enough to allow me to commit to a step and push up on it before it collapses and I sink in to my groin.  Hateful.  I’ve been out on many occasions where I’ve been able to boot up something, but my heavier partners are wallowing in misery behind me as they punch through every step.  This is usually only funny when it is happening to someone else.

The cure for crust is the Alpine Crawl, which is preformed just like you might imagine, by crawling up a slope on your hands and knees.  There is some booting involved, but the idea is to spread your weight out over your hands and shins so you get a little bit of extra flotation.

You can motor right along with an Alpine Crawl, but it gets tiring.  Fortunately, that perfectly awful zone never seems to last too long – it either tightens up and become supportable 200lb crust, or softens up to the point where it might be easier to switch back to skins. In the meantime, get on your knees and crawl.

180lb Courtney up to his 'nads in 150lb crust and loving it.

The disheartening thing about brutal booting is that it usually means the skiing is going to be pretty jacked as well, but not always…

Just keep thinking light thoughts on each turn.  ;)

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Help support StraightChuter.com and stay dry and stink-free in the crust with an I/O Bio Merino Contact Crib Shirt from Backcountry.com. Click on the photo below…

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Category: 05 Uphill

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

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  1. Colin in CA says:

    Not ski crampon territory, eh?

  2. BP in Crazy Japan says:

    That is the worst! I had it in lower Tanners once – but the slope angle was just shallow enough to where crawling didn’t really work either. Lots of swearing helps I’ve found.

  3. Andrew says:

    Bill – yes, not only is swearing encouraged, but it should be graded for creativity and inappropriateness as well. ;)

  4. Trenching C says:

    That Courtney guy is a portly 195 flexing out naked in the mirror. I heard he’s cutting back to only three jars of peanut butter per week, and eliminating clams.

  5. mc says:

    Looks like my Monday and I’m not the 150 lb. guy! Good thing there were no children within earshot.

  6. daddylonglegger says:

    with the thin pack in the ‘satch this winter (or wutever you call it)some of us don’t even ‘nad out

  7. hazy-but fond-memories says:

    wull i ‘member back in 07/08, ya perd’neer had ta do the alpine crawl jes ta git from yer car up to the gal dang skin track

  8. Darrell says:

    Sometimes I will use my ski poles to create a “bridge” to help me wallow up unsupportable crusts. I place the poles side-by side and grab them at the grip and the basket end. Then, I can reach out in front and push down on the poles as they lay sideways on top of the crust, using the “bridge” to gain support while I try to get my feet up.
    I used this extensively on my trip to Baffin as all the stuff we skied was variable crusts on top of facets on top of ice. At least the views were stunning.

  9. Jared says:

    Darrell, same here. Sometimes I’ll use my skis to get even more surface area. Put them together and use them to push-pull me up the slope. Learned that from watching snowboarders (who only have one option: boot) climb up chutes.

  10. rod georgiu says:

    my technique is similar, except i try to keep my hands very low, like doing a mantle when climbing. This way, it seems that when i put weight on my hands, the snow under them gets supported by my knees. It does sound weird, but i think it works.

  11. Chuck says:

    We call that snow a unit of measurement deep…”How deep is that snow?” …”balls deep!”

  12. Neil P says:

    Nothing like a good set of Verts for climbing steeps, in any type of snow. It amazes me where these things (along with splitboard/skis n skins of course) can get you- straight up with EASE!! Check em’ out, only 2lbs… http://verts.com/

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