The Rope

The rope you need depends on the glacier. If steep technical climbing is expected, with the possibility of severe leader falls, use a standard 10-to 11-millimeter climbing rope or two 9-millimeter ropes. But for "easy" glaciers, a single 9-millimeter rope will handle crevasse falls. For the snow, use one of the "dry" ropes treated by the manufacturer to reduce moisture absorption. This keeps the rope lighter, drier, stronger, and easier to handle.

surface so you can see it, you may be at a loss to explain the odd crevassing. Because of bottom irregularities like this, the only absolute rule about crevasses is that they can form just about anywhere, anytime.

Crevasses are most dangerous in the accumulation zone, that portion of a glacier high enough to receive more snow every year than it loses to melting. Here, crevasses are frequently covered with snow, either filling the hole or forming bridges over the void. Some of the bridges are too weak to support a climber. Others are strong enough for the moment, but will weaken as the bridge melts or the crevasse widens.

Below the accumulation zone is the area of the glacier called the ablation zone, where annual melting matches or exceeds the yearly snowfall. Between the two zones is the firn line (also known as the névé line), named for the words that designate old snow.

Often a giant crevasse known as a bergschrund forms at the glacier's upper limit, where it pulls away from a stationary ice cap. Sometimes a bergschrund presents the final problem in a climb, with the summit a short stroll beyond. Other times, a snowfield above a bergschrund is separated from a higher rock face by a moat, formed by melting and the downhill creep of the snow. A moat can be every bit as hard to cross as a bergschrund.

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  • Debra
    What is a moat in mountaineering?
    9 years ago

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