Glissade (climbing)

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Glissading is the act of descending a steep snow- or scree-covered slope via a controlled slide on one's feet or buttocks. It is an alternative to other descent methods such as plunge stepping, and may be used to expedite a descent, or simply for the thrill.

Methods[edit]

There are three primary methods of glissading:

  • Sitting
  • Standing
  • Crouching

Sitting glissade[edit]

This is the easiest type of glissade and generally provides the greatest amount of stability. It is also less tiring than a standing or crouching glissade in softer snow. To perform a sitting glissade one sits down and slides on the slope usually holding on to an ice axe in a self-arrest position, especially when the run-out of the slope is in question.

The major drawbacks to the sitting glissade are that one's outer layers get wet, and that there is less control than in a standing glissade.

Standing glissade[edit]

The standing glissade is often the preferred method if the person glissading is skilled in doing so and snow conditions allow. In this glissading position one has a better view of route hazards, and increased maneuverability over a sitting glissade. In addition a standing glissade cuts down the wet and abrasive forces of the sitting glissade. The standing glissade is best performed over firm snow with a soft top layer.

Crouching glissade[edit]

The crouching glissade is similar to the standing method except the climber sits back and drags the spike of their ice axe (held in self-arrest grip) in the snow. The method is slower but more controlled than the standing glissade. A disadvantage to this technique is the tiring of the legs.

References[edit]