The end run

When a crevasse pinches to a close at one end, the safest and most dependable technique is the end run (fig. 13-3). A quarter-mile walk may gain you only 20 or 30 feet of forward progress, but it often beats a direct confrontation with the crevasse.

Fig. 13-4. Crossing a bridged crevasse under belay

Fig. 13-4. Crossing a bridged crevasse under belay

In late summer when the winter snow has melted down to the ice, you may be able to see the true end of the crevasse. But if fresh snow still blankets the glacier, the visible end of the crack is usually not its true end. Make a wide swing around the corner and probe carefully.

Snow bridges

If an end run is impractical, look for a bridge (fig. 13-4). Remnant snowcovcr sagging over the void forms one type of bridge. Other, sturdier bridges are really thin isthmuses between two crevasses, with foundations that extend deep into the body of the glacier.

Study a bridge carefully—try for a side view— before putting any faith in it. If you're in doubt, belay the leader in for probing and a close-up look. After the leader gets across, you can follow exactly in the original tracks, belayed from both sides of

Fig. 13-3. End run around a crevasse, keeping the rope taut by not following in the leailer's footsteps the crevasse if you're the middle person on a three-person rope. Then belay the third climber across.

The strength of a snow bridge varies tremendously with temperature. An arch that might support a truck in the cold of winter or early morning may collapse under its own weight during an afternoon thaw. Cross every bridge with caution every time. Don't assume that because it held in the morning during the ascent that it's safe as you head down in the afternoon.

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