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Kyle

Mt. Baker

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I have a friend, lets call him Joe, who was climbing with one partner. It was the summer solstice and the weather was perfect. They summited Baker and decided to make a speedy decent by glissading down in the soft summer snow. Joe slowed down and watched in disbelief as his partner glissaded into a cravasse. His partner hit his head and landed unconscious, face down in a puddle of water at the bottom of the cravasse. Joe set up an anchor and tried to extract his friend. He could not do it. He then rappelled into the cravasse where he was totally drenched by a waterfall in the cravasse. By the time Joe got to his friend it was too late. He performed CPR, all the while getting colder and colder in the bottom of the cravasse. He then realized his own situation was perilous and tried to get himself out. Joe almost died of hypothermia trying to prussik out of the cravasse through the waterfall. All he could do was tell the rescue team to take their time for friend was already dead.

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On Rainier some years ago I punched into a huge crack on the Carbon, close to the toe of Liberty Ridge. It was early May, we were a party of 2, and were crossing a very jumbled & scary mess of intersecting cracks & seracs. I was in lead, & was at the end of a spooky little catwalk between cracks, said 'watch me here this seems funky...' & suddenly dropped up to my waist (my pack caught me). I carefully swung my feet around in all directions & couldn't touch the walls of the crevasse at all. My bud belayed me while I sunk my axe as far away as I could & grovelled out of there. We scurried away & didn't stop to ponder how close a call it was until we'd made the relative safety of the ridge. It shook me up good, & motivated me to learn more about glacier safety & rescue techniques etc. I also gained some appreciation for just how vulnerable a party of 2 can be- if I'd fallen all the way in, I could have yanked my partner in too & we'd have been screwed... a 3rd climber would have made it quite a bit safer I think.

 

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Jason Martin is absolutely correct. Both he and I practice pulling people out of holes on a weekly basis (teaching others that is) and it's really not that hard.

There is this myth amongst the climbing community that you are screwed if you fall in and you are in a team of 2 which is totally false.

With proper training and PRACTICE one person can pull out another without too much trouble.

If you are worried that you won’t be able to arrest your partner in a 1:1 crevasse fall try climbing with a partner of similar weight. You can also tie several overhand knots in the rope between you to provide friction on the snow surface. WARNING! The knots will need to be passed while rescuing or prussiking.

If you are one of those climbers who tools around not knowing how to do a 1:1 rescue.... well you better hope Jason is around when you go in smile.gif

Tom Dancs

PS: Jason I have had several calls from Portland in recent days smile.gif)))

 

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I'd have to agree that it is distinctly possible for one person to pull another out of a crevasse. In fact, I've done it.

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Matt-

Thanks for sharing the experience - it's always sobering to hear of those sad but potential realities. A lesson for us all: glaciers need to be respected so rope up! And learn how to use the rope for rescues.

[This message has been edited by Jman (edited 08-29-2001).]

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One guy can definitely extricate someone by himself, given a good anchor and enough mechanical advantage. The real trick is avoiding the worst case scenario, where a falling climber pulls his partner into a crevasse. I think this happened a few years ago to 2 guys descending the Emmons after climbing Lib Ridge. Also read the first chapter of Jim Wickwire's depressing book ("Addicted to Danger") for another case of this. I'll still climb 2 on a rope, but I'm always aware of the added danger, & I prefer to have a 3rd person on the rope when I can.

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I agree with MattP on all counts, and like him frequently travel on glaciers with just one partner. It's a calculated risk. I carry minimal equipment to climb a rope, and have a second set in case my partner needs it (they get it at the car). This assumes a clean fall, consciousness, no severe injury, etc.

As for unexpected falls into crevasses on Cascade peaks by experienced climbers, a partner fell very quickly into his arm pits on the N. Face of Shuksan this year and there was no indication at all of any danger prior to the fall. He is very experienced and was as surprised as Colin and I were. It was scary seeing this happen on a big, fairly steep snow face. After that, we roped up. We got lucky. Live and learn.

John Sharp

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Even 'trivial' glaciers can occasionally burn you, as posted above about the interglacier. A few years ago, while glissading down Mt Ruth, unroped, I popped into a hidden hole up to my armpits. There were no visible crevasses on the entire route, and, given the presence of other unroped parties, I had assumed that crevesses were unheard of there. I came back there the following year late in the fall, and saw the glacier bare of all snow, and it was riddled with many narrow crevasses.

I see plenty of parties with inadequate gear, not using the gear they are carrying, or carring plenty of gear, with no idea of how to use it. I'm sure you all have similar experiences.

I'm going up Baker this weekend as a rope of 3, with 1 novice, and will spend an entire extra day training him in crevasse rescue. Maybe not enough, but hopefully some insurance to save my butt, if another 'surprise' happens.

-David

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I only travel two on a team with an expieracened partner, as it is very difficult to pull yourself out of a slot by yourself. I think it can be done, but I have heard that four climbers fell in a crevasse on Baker this weekend. I have fell in a crevasse up to my armpits several times, and it is dangerous to go with one other person on a glacier, or even more.

TTT

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