As many of the mountains in the Jotunheim cross glaciers an integral part of our mountaineering courses include glacier travel and self / buddy rescue. Over the years I get asked the question how many people fall into a crevasse each year, this is normally followed by me saying, rarely.
When I speak to other instructors and guides in Norway they all have stories about punching through with one leg or up top the waist, but no full falls. Normally this has happened after unseasonal snow fall covers the glacier in summer hiding the crevasses.
It got me wondering how many people have actually fallen through a crevasse or for that matter through a cornice or other crevasses (like between the rock and snow). Did you get out yourself or did you get pulled out?
Fell through weak snow once into Jaws of narrow but very deep bergshrund. 5 mins before we'd rather stupidly discussed unroping but sense had pervaled. My partner hit the deck straight away and git an axe belay in. I didn't come onto the rope having shoved in an axe and hugged the lip of the shrund. Took an exciting couple of minutes to extricate myself. The worst was having to cover the rest of the glacier expecting to fall through again.
Have you got a famous relative you could ask about crevasses?
Have punched through a leg into a proper crevasse in the alps a few times. On both occasions it was summer and it had snowed a lot during the last few days.. so weak snow bridges. Was travalling solo, so moved quite carefully and didn't need to do anything else than just circumvent the crevasse.
Also (bum) glissaded over/through a small cornice, but self arrested some 10m below. This happened in Scotland.
Never had any problems in Scandinavia (have dropped off quite a few cornices, on purpose and with skis on me feet though).
The big close call I can remember is in Utah, it included bottomless fluff, a small aspen (I think), a big spruce and next to said spruce a ginormous treewell... snagged a lurking snow snake and fell. The small aspen then snagged my ski and made me go head first into the spruce and looming treewell... luckily the aspen got cought in my binding so also stopped me for going into said treewell head first. Too a bit of huffin' and puffin' to get up due to the soft snow, being partly head first in the tree well and in quite steep terrain.
A big thread on this topic
Thanks. Did a quick search before posting, however that one didn't pop up.
A French guide sadly died after a snow bridge collapsed this summer in Cham. The client was ok.
Will McLewin's 'In Monte Viso's Horizon' has an account of a fall into a crevasse on the Brunegggletscher, and his self-extraction.
Simone Moro has a close call recently, managed to get a screw in the wall. His partner wasn't great after absorbing the fall from what I remember.
I fell up to my waist once on the plod up the aletsch glacier with new snow. also fell into a bergscrund on another occasion but that was carelessness.
I fell in one up to my chest above the Längfluh in Saas Fee. A bit unexpected as we were more or less off the glacier proper and starting to get amongst the moiraine. Stepped on what turned out to be a thin snow bridge over a narrow crevasse; my momentum carried me forward and I caught the far lip under my arm pits. Feet were free hanging although there was a further snow bridge (well, snow plug) a little under me. No snow on either side though and it was pretty deep otherwise.
It definitely did not look like a crevasse, although it was late in the day and I might have missed signs. I was at the back, roped (although there was a little slack in the rope; I caught myself before the rope did), and the heavier of a two person team.
I was able to scramble out myself, no harm done, but if it had been wider and I hadn't caught myself I would have gone all the way in for sure.
After two days benighted in a high alpine hut, due to a heavy storm a group of seven formed to descend to the valley, me and my mate were at the back. We had a dilemma, the normal route went along the lateral moraine at the edge of the glacier, but that was being threatened by snow slides from the hillside above. The glacier itself was blanketed in soft snow covering all the crevasses that we knew were there.
After some discussion we decided to risk the glacier, the group consisted of a couple of locals, couple novices, a Major in the French alpine corps and me and my mate who both considered ourselves to be reasonably experienced alpenists, with the Major leading the way.
We got about half way down the glacier when the Major disappeared down a crevasse. As there were six of us behind him on the rope we managed to hold him and haul him out.
The major carried his axe in his hand with no safety leash, so he had lost his axe in the fall. his did cause some difficulties he couldn't offer any assistance, we just had to pull. It wasn't quite as simple as straight hauling but we got him out.
Then we had to work out which was the best line to take to get off the glacier.
Thanks for all your comments
Yes, once- put me off climbing for ages. First alpine season, descending from Midi Plan traverse in 2 ropes of 2. In days before antibott plates were normal. about midday (we were a bit slow). Slipped on steep descent in heavily crevassed terrain. My mate kept shouting "run", I was desperately trying to enact an ice-axe arrest in slush....fell 10+ meters into a very deep crevasse. Bit basked about but nothing very serious. Hauled out on the manky 9mm rope which was almost completely severed by the time I popped out. Subsequently spent the night out on on an unplanned bivvy the Mer de Glace glacier- quite chilly.! All in all a great introduction to alpinism.
Not personally but I've been tied to a partner that fell completely in somewhere on the Mer de Glace between the Requine hut and the Cosmiques hut. I stopped him by self arrest and looked back to see the rope disappearing into a hole! I didn't need to hoist though, it was narrow enough for him to be able to back and foot up it while I crawled forwards in the snow to take in the slack. Something which I was very glad of.
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