Posts Tagged 'glacier'

Single Shot: Stories in a Crevasse

Lazlo asked, “I’ve read plenty about haul systems and anchor, etc. I’m stoked about glacial travel. But I’m curious to read other reports on crevasse falls and how the hauling and/or ascending went. Thanks!”

This reminded me of an experience I had in Alaska, so I thought I’d write him back.

“I have a story I don’t mind sharing because it proves a technique.

“In the spring of 2003 I went to the Ruth Gorge with DPS, and while descending from the Mooses Tooth back to our camp, my partner and I simply followed our ski-tracks through the ice fall. DPS was in front, I was following. We had one last corner to negotiate at the bottom of the ice-fall before reaching the main glacier near the airstrip, and I pushed a little to make sure I passed the corner without pulling on DPS.

“Just as I kick-turned, the floor dropped out beneath me. I yelled/screamed ‘CREVASSE!!!‘ as I dropped.

“DPS says he heard, ‘something that made me turn around,’ saw our rope snaking into a hole, and took off running.

“When he reached the end of the slack, he was a bit surprised to find he wasn’t having to arrest anything. So he built an anchor, transferred the rope over, and self-belayed back to the hole to figure out what had happened. Maybe I had landed on a bridge?

“Not even. I was hanging about 20 feet in the hole, shaking from the adrenalin rush. Scarier still was the running water from a moulin tube 10 feet below me. So what happened? In 2002 I had learned about a technique to use stopper knots – butterflys were the general consensus – between two climbers on glacier travel. I insisted to a skeptical DPS that we use them. And one of these knots had jammed into the lip of the hole, holding all of my falling weight, saving DPS from having to arrest at all.

“Pretty cool.

“DPS lowered a rope to haul up my pack and skis, and I jugged out on my own with some assistance to get over the majorly overhung lip.

“Its likely if that knot hadn’t caught, I would have been dipped, and soaked, in the glacier stream below my feet. What was a simple exit from the crevasses would have been a serious environmental medical issue.

“This technique of using stopper knots is also common practice now amongst AMGA guides.”