Speed is Safety – Part I

| August 22, 2008
Moving fast in the mountains is a joy.  Heavy camping and hiking has its place, but at the same time, cranking out what is normally a two day trip in six hours is like watching your favorite action film in fast forward.  The scenery and thrills are the same, they just come at you a lot faster.

A classic mountain adage is “Speed is safety.”  This is true as the less time you spend on a lightning prone ridgetop, in avalanche paths or underneath potential ice fall, the less likely you are to get hit.  The flip side is that mistakes happen when you rush.  It’s a fine line between hurry and worry.

Mark Holbrook going from 14,300' to the 20,320' summit of Denali in eight hours with only a day pack.
Mark Holbrook going from 14,300′ to the 20,320′ summit of Denali in eight hours with only a day pack.

The basis of any fast mountain outing is to reduce your pack weight to a minimum.  In climbing, this is known as “A pack, a rack and the shirt on your back.” The skiing version might be “A pack, a snack and there’s nothing you lack.”

Tomorrow:  Basic Speed Concepts

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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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