Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue

While it is true that some climbers manage to get away for years with unroped travel on snow-covered glaciers, far too many less fortunate others have been fatally surprised when an apparently safe expanse of snow collapsed and dropped them into the depths of an icy slot. Experience will help you to detect the subtle shadings and depressions that may indicate a hidden crevasse, but no one 1 know has climbed for long in an alpine environment and not fallen into a hole or two. Where the ice is bare, of course, the crevasses may be seen, and unroped travel is often justifiable; otherwise, use the rope.

For the rope to be a true safeguard, it must be properly employed. This means you must be prepared to stop a fall and to extricate yourself or another from a crevasse. The basic two-person party should tie into the ends of the rope normally, then each climber should take up one-third of the rope in coils and clip into the shortened rope with a figure 8 and locking carabiner. The extra coils may be carricd over the shoulder. This extra rope is thus available once a fall has been held and anchored, to be thrown down into the crevasse to the fallen climber. A prusik and 12-foot loop of 7mm cord is tied just in front of the figure-8 knot or ascending device if one is available. If the fall has been successfully held, the axe shaft may be rammed through this loop into the snow and backed up as needed, and the load of the fallen climber can then be taken by the prusik or ascender, freeing the belayer to extract himself or herself from the rope and further assist the victim.

Prusik Loop Glacier Travel
Roped "in thirds" for glacier travel, each climber carries OM-thW of the rape coiled over his or her shoulder, ready for use In crevasse rescue; the other one-third connects the two climbers.

If you are the one who has fallen, first remove your pack and hang it from the rope, then stand in your foot sling and right yourself. Once the extra ropes from the person on the surface have been lowered to you and have been padded with a pack or ice axe to keep them from burying themselves in the edge of the crevasse, you can then alternately slide up and stand in the foot sling, belayed by the other rope, until you have worked your way out of the crevasse. If the victim is injured or unconscious, mechanical pulley systems can be arranged, but these seldom allow one unaided person to hoist another.

Careful route finding will make a fall into a r*<

Neil Hopkins KiteNeil Hopkins Kite

Ho moTtw bow careful you are, evMledly you will fall kite a thinly bridged crevasse, such as this one Here I'm (bopping the free end of the rope down to Tort Tariffed to lo the free end of the rope and I ptrt her M belay. Then she stood in her pnislk, undipped from her lading combiner, mid hung her padc from hei old tfe-ln point.

crevasse less likely. Traveling against the general grain will lessen the chances of all members falling into the same crevasse, and a tight rope as you walk will keep falls short. Remember that there are generally fewer crevasses where the ice is under compression, such as in dips and the inside of bends in the glacier. Where the ice flows over a hump or on the outside of corners, you will find more crevasses. If you must cross a suspect snowbridge, it is best for one person to set a boot-axe or other appropriate belay in advance while the leader gingerly probes with an axe to ascertain the strength of the snow before lightly walking or crawling (to distribute the weight better) over the bridge. The other members should be belayed across as well. Snowshoes and skis

Ice Climber Tie
the anchor set-up. The rope to Teri is held by a prasik knot, backed up by a tie-off to the second anchor. I am using the rope directly from the second anchor as my belay at the edge of the crevasse.

Above Traveling parallel 1« the crevasse pattern putt climbers at risk of tailing In simultaneously.,. while walking crosswise to the (reraise pattern redacts I hoi risk. Owe across the crevasse field, I belayed Ten through using a standard belay anchored to my ht oxe. Below: Higher on the glader we loond same crevasses still spanned by snawbridges made of Ihe previous winter's mow. A belay and corefaf probing were called for.,., Eventually we (ante to a trevasse with no easy way around. With an attentive belay from Tut who was situated well bock, I calculated the distance, took the appropriate «umber of tolls in my baud, a start, and made a leap for the other side, dropping Ihe rape rails In mid-air, end preparing to make a seff-arrest upon lauding. Teti opted for a long detour.

Crossing Crevasse From CarabinerIce Crevass

effectively spread body weight over a large area and often make such crossings safer.

The huge masses of ice in seracs and icefalls are unpredictable, since their movement is affected more by the glacier's continuous downward motion than by superficial freeze and thaw. Therefore, whenever possible, avoid routes that require travel through icefalls or exposure to seracs. In those rare instances when, for whatever reason, you choose to accept these risks, remember that speed is the most important safety factor.

Continue reading here: Climbing Low Angle

Was this article helpful?

0 0


  • bellina
    How to perform crevasse extrication?
    10 years ago
  • edward
    How long are prusik loops for crevasse rescue?
    10 years ago