+8 8 votes

Slippery Slope? Get a Grip

Written by Steve Godfrey

The semi-forested north-facing slope was semi-frozen and patches of hard snow stubbornly occupied the spaces between the trees. It was late February and I was hiking the ridges above one of Cashmere's finger canyons.

Daylight was quickly waning as I stood high atop the ridge. Because I'm not a big fan of hiking with a headlamp in steep, rugged terrain, I wanted to get off this mountain before the gremlins of darkness emerged, but I had to make good time to beat the blackness. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but when that line spans steep and slippery terrain, it might not be the smart choice.

Then the bulb came on: I remembered the bulge in the right pocket of my pack.

The pair of Microspikes I had purchased months ago were virgin, undoubtedly disappointed at their new owner for bringing them along on numerous adventures but never giving them an opportunity to shine.

Until now.

The eager Microspikes jumped from their zippered bag and, in a flash, the taut rubber uppers were firmly gripping my boots. With hiking poles extended to the max, I launched down the steep, slippery slope.

My admiration for this well-designed product was immediate. I discovered I could hike straight down the formerly treacherous slope without flying onto my back or slip-sliding away on ice-coated grass. My newfound stability gave me the necessary confidence for rapid transit downward and I was off the tricky terrain with time to burn. Even the glare of ice on the well-worn path to the trailhead was no match for the claws of these spikes.

Since then, I've used the Microspikes on several occasions. Each time I pat myself on the back for making the purchase. My extra-large pair for size 12 boots weighs 15.5 ounces. I'm stingy about the extra weight I add to my pack, but the value Microspikes have given my outdoor adventures far outweighs the added pound. These are now an essential hiking product and I carry them whenever I visit steep ground that might be frozen. Here in Central Washington, that means I carry them a lot.

Microspikes are available locally at sporting goods stores. They are the perfect product when there's insufficient snow to snowshoe, when the ground is inadequately covered with a uniform blanket of ice to justify full-fledged crampons, but when the tread on your hiking shoes isn't adequate for good grip.

I've found slippery conditions no longer stop me from "just getting out" to hike in this wonderful playground we call Central Washington.



For another perspective on this product, see this article.