Traveling on glacial terrain can be inherently dangerous, difficult and complicated due to the variable nature of the terrain, the limited ability to scope out the hazards in advance and the serious consequences of falling into a crevasse. Even a minor fall into a crevasse can negatively affect the safety and success of the adventure.
Preventing a fall, or limiting the potential severity of a fall, into a crevasse while moving efficiently is the goal of glacier travel and requires practice and attention to detail. Further; if a fall does occur, rapid, organized and safe rescue is the goal of crevasse rescue.
Goals of the day:
- Introduce basic concepts of glacier travel and crevasse rescue.
- Become familiar with equipment choices, use and inspection.
- Practice roped travel, self-rescue and partner rescue.
Choosing how to travel on glaciated terrain is usually the first and often most difficult decision to make. There are two basic ways to address glacier travel safety and they usually depend on the activity and/or the perceived level of hazard:
- Having the team roped up in advance and pre-equipped for self and team rescue. This is the more traditional mountaineering glacier travel approach.
- Traveling unroped and having rescue equipment available for team rescue. This is most common for heli ski and ski mountaineering descents.
Choosing how to rescue is the next difficult decision to make and requires a specific skillset and significant practice. We will dive into both of these approaches and learn about the intricacies of both travel and rescue in each situation. Basic skills covered throughout the day include:
- Introduction to the glaciated environment
- Anatomy of a glacier
- Hazard recognition
- Overview of equipment
- Basic Ropework
- Knots and hitches
- Tie in methods and spacing
- Team size and how that affects security
- Moving as a team
- Strategies to increase security
- Crevasse Rescue
- Overview of incident response to a crevasse fall
- Snow anchors and load transfers
- Lowering systems
- Raising systems
- Rope ascending and descending
Who is this course for:
This course is suitable for both skiers/riders and climbers, the fundamental skills are shared. In order to get the most out of the day, students should have a background in basic climbing before taking this course. Taking an Intro to Mountaineering class, or having experience in rock, ice or snow climbing will set you up for success.