While travelling through the Sierra’s of California in late May through early June, you are likely to hit a lot of snow. I’ve hiked this section of the trail twice already, and have seen a fair amount of snow in July and August in those parts. A valuable safety skill to have is learning to Self-Arrest. Self-arrest is done with an ice axe. Basically, if you are sliding down a steep snowy/icy slope, you dig the axe into the snow/ice in order to slow and/or stop yourself completely. Sounded easy to me, but I quickly learned that the technique is not as easy as you would think. Anyways, I went out with a group of good friends, two of whom had taken winter mountain safety courses through the CMC (Colorado Mountain Club), and knew the proper techniques. We spent a solid four hours practicing, and I feel that at the end of the time, I was able to self-arrest pretty well. This will be a valuable skill for the 300-400 miles through the southern Sierra’s, and could even save my life if I were to slip. The axe is also used for stabilization when hiking on steep slops. If you want to learn more about self arrest, look here.
I also took some GoPro footage from the day and put it together for my buddies and I to laugh at after the fact. It’s pretty easy to tell who the experienced individuals are (Brandon). You can watch that video below. Hope you enjoy, and stay safe out there 🙂