How to Walk on Snow and Ice

January 10th, 2013

Like driving, walking on snow or ice presents a few challenges not seen in normal movement. My advice can be condensed into a few rules.

  1. Prefer no ice or snow to ice or snow. Yeah.
  2. Prefer to walk on snow instead of ice.Snow provides far more traction because it is rough and crumbly. You can even kick or toss some snow onto an icy path make it more walkable.
  3. Prefer to walk on textured instead of smooth surfaces. A generalization of the previous tip, texture equals traction which equals a lower likelihood of slipping.This tip encourages you to think outside the box in seeking texture to walk upon. Does one path have more debris sticking out of it? Walk on it! Does one patch of ice crack under your feet while another is frozen solid? Walk on the more fragile patch and make your own traction as you go! This doesn’t apply if you’re on a frozen body of water, however.
  4. Prefer previously-untread ground to other people’s footprints. When a person steps in snow, they compact and slightly melt it. The footprint then refreezes into a smoother and harder form: the exact surface you should avoid! Blaze your own trail and make your own footprints. Get creative and walk across snow-covered lawns if the normal path is completely icy.
  5. Prefer flat ground to slopes. Walking up or down a slope is a lot more tricky than walking on flat ground. If your usual walk is iced over and sloping, it may be worth your time to take a longer route that is flatter (parking in Greektown over winter break, I stopped cutting across the parking lots of the houses here because they are all on slopes and often under shade so there is more ice. Instead I just use the sidewalk and walk around the block to get to work).
{ The people who walked on the right knew how to do it. While the thin layer of snow on the sidewalk hardened into a slick glaze, a few people elected to walk in the thicker snow over the grass. There's enough loose snow for me to follow without stepping in their footprints. }

{ The person who walked on the right knew how to do it. While the thin layer of snow on the sidewalk hardened into a slick glaze, the person elected to walk in the thicker snow over the grass. There’s enough loose snow for me to follow without stepping in their footprints. }

More snow is coming to Columbia at the end of the week. Be careful! I’ll actually be in San Diego, which I guess is the ultimate tip for dealing with snow and ice.


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