5. Snow Travel – Duck Foot

In this video we look at the duck foot technique for climbing snow.

When ascending up a snow slope of moderate angle, the most efficient method may be the duck foot method.  The French term for this is “pied en canard”. It is similar to the herringbone technique that a skier would do to ascend a short uphill section.

The main advantage of this technique is that you will reduce strain on your calf muscles.  The un-initiated alpinist may tackle this same hill using the front point technique and end up with cramping calves.

If you are using crampons, remember to focus on engaging all your crampon points.

A modification of the duck foot technique for steeper snow or ice would be to have one foot in the duck foot position and one foot in the front point position.  This is sometimes called “American technique” or Pied Troisieme.

Ultimately this is one tool in the toolbox of snow and ice climbing and the challenge will be selecting the right foot position to match the angle and firmness of the snow.

We hope you found this video helpful. Feel free to comment below with questions or thoughts!


Please remember, climbing is inherently dangerous. Climb at your own risk.