Review: MSR Snow Picket and Fluke

Halfway up a 19,000-foot peak, watching one’s ropemates struggle for solid footing on near-vertical ice, a guy naturally starts wondering how good his gear really is. Luckily, when I found myself in this situation a few weeks ago, I had a Snow Picket and a Snow Fluke from MSR. I’d practiced extensively with them the day before and knew they’d make solid anchors in the case of a fall. The picket’s reinforced hammer-end could handle the frantic beating I’d surely dish out, and the beveled attachment points meant I could place it vertically or horizontally, depending on terrain and snow conditions. The fluke’s burly steel cable and tough nylon decking assured easy placement and excellent holding power. Both offered lightweight aluminum frames to keep my pack light. After mentally sizing up my protection, I quickly realized the weak link in a rescue scenario would likely be me. Available at Northern Lights. $30-$40 (picket) and $40-$50 (fluke), depending on size.