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telenaut wrote:
>IOW these were conditions that (almost) required front pointing and yet did
>not at all require an ice axe, nor were they difficult to ski.
>
>So, question...
>Were these conditions unusual? A tiny window between plenty soft and way too
>hard? Or is there something I'm not getting about the "need crampons, need
>ice axe" argument?

Um, it's the *angle* of the slope that determines the need for
front-pointing, not how firm the snow/ice is. With mountaineering boots,
you generally don't need to front-point on slopes less than 45 - 50
degrees. The flat-footed "French technique" is preferable. It's actually
more secure and takes a load of strain off your calf muscles. Yes, alpine
ski boots, being higher (although not necessarily stiffer), limit ankle
flex a bit more and hence you may find that you need to get onto the front
points at a lower angle.

I agree that it's a relatively small window between being soft enough to
kick steps and firm enough to need crampons. Part of that equation is the
ability and comfort level of the person doing the kicking. OTOH, I totally
agree with Matt when he writes:
>...and IMnotsoHO, if you are
>using crampons you should usually be using a
>self-arrest tool of some sort

If conditions are firm enough to require crampons, you'll go into an
uncontrolled slide if you should slip and have no way of arresting your
fall. But to add to this, an uncontrolled slide is equally possible on snow
that is soft enough to not require crampons to kick steps. So, there may be
instances where despite not wearing crampons, you'd still want an axe. YMMV.

-marc

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