Techniques for moving efficiently

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  • #29612

    In this article, Steve writes, “However, most mountain athletes, especially beginners and intermediate-level, can make bigger gains by improving technique than they can by improving fitness.”

    TFTNA does a great job of explaining how to train but does not try to go into detail about what specific movements are most efficient.

    Does anyone have any techniques for moving efficiently in alpine terrain? Or even better, are there any books that talk about this kind of thing? I don’t mean rope work and improving fitness, I mean patterns of movement that can be learned.

    For example, I recently watched a British guide in the alps blow past me at seemingly about half my speed. The terrain was a snow/ice covered rock ridge so crampons on. I noticed some things about his movement that I was not doing. He moved quite slowly and never changed pace or stopped. He was also very upright, standing up while I was hunched over using hands and feet. After deciding to follow his footsteps (literally) I noticed that he was taking several small steps where I would have taken one big step up, often on steps so small I would have ignored them. In this way he used more skill on his front points to avoid strenuous leg work.

Posted In: Alpinism

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    Anonymous on #29649

    Great observations! I think you answered your own question. Very observant.

    As a general principle, think, “Fast is slow and slow is fast.” Most people new to the mountains travel in fits and starts, stopping and starting, and wasting a ton of time in transitions. On the other hand, those with a lot of experience go at a slower pace but rarely stop, so their total time for an objective is usually much lower.

    Anonymous on #29695

    I completely concur with Scott Semple’s comments. Good for you for picking these cues from the guide you watched. The reason we’ve never written much/anything about technique is that it can really only be learned on event specific terrain. And it must be practiced to be perfected. It would be like trying to explain (rather than show) to someone how to play the piano.


    tkbattaglia on #29784

    I would like to add one point, and ask Scott to comment.
    While taking a Winter Alpinism group course in Chamonix, our instructors would emphasize that moving efficiently in the mountain most of the times was about not losing time trying to get things perfect, but rather making things work safely. As an example, it would be inneficient to store your ice axe on the backpack loops when you won’t need it for a while (what would require taking off your backpack), where one example of efficient choice would be to just pass it inside the backpack’s shoulder strap, “guide style”, avoiding loss of time.

    Anonymous on #29934

    Yes, exactly. Ideally, you never want to stop moving.

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