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Norman_Clyde

unroped on a glacier?

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Yeah when you see a party of 4 skiing roped up in March and knocking each other off their feet every 20 feet... or people roped up on a slab of bare ice with no pro placed between em and no crevasses in view for miles... who looks like the asshole then??? [laf][laf][laf][laf][laf]

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See Mugs Stump

 

"Mugs Stump was one of this country's most prolific and visionary climbers until his death in a crevasse fall in Alaska in May, 1992."

 

My recollection is that the area he was in had been probed and wanded as safe and that he was going to the outer edge of the area to piss. Don't quote me though.

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A point of clarification regarding Mugs' demise:

Mugs fell into a crevasse at the top of the "Ramp" on the South Buttress of Denali while descending with two clients. They had been denied just short of the summit by very high winds and low visibility. The Ramp is a very broken up steep glacier that drops about 3,000 feet or more off the north side of the South Buttress. Mugs was at the back of the rope when they reached the top of the Ramp prior to descending. The clients couldn't pick out the route down so Mugs came up to take a look. He stepped on the overhanging lip of a crevasse, which broke, and went in quite a ways. The kicker was a good chunk of the lip went in after him. The clients rapped into the crevasse to try a rescue but all they could see was the rope leading into a huge amount of snow debris and they couldn't hear any response from Mugs. The clients descended the Ramp later and called a rescue/recovery. After a reconnaissance, the NPS decided that a recovery was not feasible given the location and conditions.

 

By the way, this was after something like 5 to 10 feet of snow fell on the mountain. The bunkers climbers put in at the 14,200' camp were amazing and the Kahiltna was a paved highway for a week or so. Several huge slides hammered the entire Ramp later. Mugs' accident and the snow conditions convinced us that the South Buttress as our original objective was a bad idea when we arrived about 10 days later.

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That's what I remembered hearing....thought I had Mugs confused with somebody else.

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I'm sure that if I die by falling into a big cravasse, some people I know will say "atleast there is one less asshole in the world".

 

And the fall will have nothing to do with it.

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Let's not forget Renato Casarotto, who soloed the Ridge of no Return on Denali. He died within sight of basecamp and his wife while returning from a solo attempt of K2, crossing a seeming safe glacier

 

Out of interest how many of those advocating not using a rope have fallen in a crevasse?

 

As a side note I happened to spend Saturday afternoon practicing crevasse rescue. A few points to add to Andy Selter's book on the topic. These were gained through experimenting with different things:

  • Forget the Z-system to haul someone your own weight (even without their gear) you need a C-system.
  • Take two pulleys, they really help reduce friction and make things significantly easier. You could take three for a C-system but the further down the chain the less return you'll see for the additional pulley.
  • Use more than one biner where you don't have pulleys, this will reduce friction.
  • Prussic length is crucial, especially for the locking prussic on the first pulley. Four inches of slack movement in the locking prussic is a foot of rope movement on the hauling line.

Even with a rope falling in could ruin your whole day. Bill Pilling took a pretty short fall into a crevasse on Mt Vancouver/Good Neighbour Peak in the Yukon and mangled his leg pretty good when his frontpoint caught.

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Ade: we are talking about Washington in the spring/summer once a good freeze/thaw cycle has begun. I don't know about K2 or Everest since those are places I've never been.

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I've spent the last few summers guiding in the Cascades, so my exposure to crevasse danger is pretty high.

 

Generally speaking, I punch my leg through a completely hidden crevasse about once a week. I've had this happen in May and I've had it happen in August.

 

I have fallen in up to my chest three times. One of those times I was on Mt. Hood. We had just finished an ascent of the Sandy Glacier Headwall and come down the south side. We unroped and I took about three steps and went in up to my chest. As you can probably guess it was pretty scary. This was about six years ago, before I began guiding and it made a lasting impression on me.

 

As a rule of thumb a dry glacier is a glacier with no snow on it. One can see all the danger because you are walking on ice. A wet glacier is a glacier with snow on it. One cannot see all the danger because the snow obscures it. I personally always rope up on a wet glacier. For newbies this is a good rule of thumb.

 

There is nothing wrong with going solo on a glacier as long as you are aware of the fact that if you do fall in a hole...you're probably going to die. But in reality this is no different from soloing easy rock. If you screw up, the consequences are big.

 

I don't think anyone has the right to lecture soloists though. Hopefully they are soloing because they are skilled and understand the consequnces of screwing up.

 

One last comment about crevasse rescue procedures... Putting a C-System inside of a Z-system is an extremely effective way of pulling a person out of a hole by yourself.

 

Jason

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quote:

Originally posted by Ade:

 

Out of interest how many of those advocating not using a rope have fallen in a crevasse?

 

As a side note I happened to spend Saturday afternoon practicing crevasse rescue. A few points to add to Andy Selter's book on the topic.

[*]
Forget the Z-system to haul someone your own weight (even without their gear) you need a C-system.

.

I have something to add Ade.

 

I have fallen into a cravasse with & without a rope. I do not unilaterally advocate the use or disuse of a rope. Read my first posting on this thread. Ironically, I did fall into a biggy in the hymalayas on a trip with Andy Selters...but just up to my shoulders because I reacted with my axe very fast and my partnes reacted very fast, and I was very glad I was using a rope and my partners had just completed a course taught by Andy.

 

To restate my point, an aware and expierenced climber can cross glaciers ( particularly below the firn line) with a reasonable amount of risk. And as you experienced, in-experienced people are not neccesarily safe with a rope...roped travel is certainly slower.

 

As far as pulling a heavy climber out...a system I have used is to clip the prusik or ascender to your rear tie in loop of your harness, cinch the harness very tight, dig your front points in hard, use two axes like you were ice climbing, squat and pull with all the might of your legs. In practice, I managed to pull a climber of equal weight to the cravasse lip with no pully or Z. It helped that a third adjusted the ascenders for me. It is a lot faster than fucking around with a "C" system.

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It all really comes down to what your own acceptable level of risk is. The problem with a newbie is that they lack the experience needed to accurately judge what the level of relative risk is.

 

Obviously you are never 100% safe on a glacier, no matter how experienced you are or what gear you have. There are times of year when it is relatively safer to travel on glaciers (with respect to crevasse hazards); when the cracks are full with max snowpack and when the cracks are exposed while in a "dry" state. Lower number of cracks, but more hidden in Winter, and higher number of cracks, less hidden, in Summer.

 

I do solo glacier routes at times, and I have taken a few crevasse falls but never while soloing. I fell in up to my chest once in the Waddington range in a spot that appeared very benign, following right in my partner's footsteps. Experience and judgement decrease your level of risk but do not garuntee anything.

 

If you have the experience to accurately judge the risk then I think you are free to make your own choice without reproach regardless of the consequences. If you die doing it then it would be sad, but I wouldn't consider you an "asshole" for it.

 

By commuting in your car to work everday you are accepting a certain level of risk. It is amazing that although motor vehicle accidents kill and maim thousands of people every year, people still drive much more than they should, and not nearly as safely as they should. People know this but still drive, they accept that level of risk, and if they are killed in a car accident through no fault of their own, you never hear of them being called an "asshole" for driving.

 

I definitely feel that I am safer soloing a glacier route in the right condition than driving my car here in Seattle, and by climbing or driving I inherently accept those risks.

 

Bruk

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Falling to your chest and feeling nothing underneath, with a deep blue to black below you, and every move you make feels like you are slipping further down is an awful experience. I still do some solo glacier travels but those experiences are certainly on my mind. It would be a horrifying way to die on a solo climb. You would most likely survive the fall, but die alone in pain, in a slow hypothermic insanity. (Ask one of Wick's partners, who was roped). Certainly a gamble, but part of the appeal of the solo thing is welcoming this risk and minimizing it through knowledge and experience.

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quote:

As far as pulling a heavy climber out...a system I have used is to clip the prusik or ascender to your rear tie in loop of your harness, cinch the harness very tight, dig your front points in hard, use two axes like you were ice climbing, squat and pull with all the might of your legs. In practice, I managed to pull a climber of equal weight to the cravasse lip with no pully or Z. It helped that a third adjusted the ascenders for me. It is a lot faster than fucking around with a "C" system.


I've not tried this. How far did your partner fall in? Was your partner wearing a heavy pack? Seems it would work for short falls with no additional partner load just fine.

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Norman,

 

The C/Z is complex. But it's really an essential piece of knowledge for the two man rope team as it is quite difficult for a single person to pull his partner out using just a Z.

 

To add the C it's assumed that you've already built your Z. Tie the end of the rope into the anchor and send a large bite of the rope down to the edge of the crevasse. The idea is to create a C coming off the anchor and going to the line that you were originally pulling on for the Z. Put a prusik on this line (the original line you were pulling on for the Z) and attach it to the the line that is coming off the anchor as a C. Now to get your partner out you must pull on the C line that is attached to the Z line.

 

It's quite complex and confusing and definately not easy to explain without a demonstration. It's even more complex when there is additional crevasse danger in the area.

 

To really get this thing down it's probably best to take a course from a guide service. Most of them provide training in how to create this type of set-up effectively.

 

Jason

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The David Faustalo book titled "Self-rescue" has decent illustrations of how to construct a 5:1 by adding a "c" to an existing "z" system. Fairly straightforward, particularly if you're well versed in the std "z" system. Good book all in all, I recommend it, although I don't care for his use of the mariner...personal thing more than anything else.

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Don't listen to him. He was unroped on a glacier just last week.

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TG, when you perform this direct technique, you set up an anchor/prusik system first, right? (I have this picture of myself trying this system, then slipping and getting pulled right in after my partner.) If you do, then you would definitely need a 3rd partner to attend the prusik, since you would not be staying in one place while you haul.

Also, I'm having trouble visualizing the C within a Z. Or is this just adding one more zigzag?

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I was unroped on a glacier all last week. Never turned the pieps on either. I think we drank alcohol too.

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I spent 6 days on glaciers last week. I had a rope in my pack, but we didn't want to get it wet or expose it to UV light.

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Don't knock the aid climber, the emmons g. route on rainier goes at A2. I'm going to try to free it this weekend with Scott'marmot. Could be an epic. [Roll Eyes]

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Ade, Are you saying to use a C instead of a Z? A C is 2:1, while a Z is 3:1.

 

Will, A ZC is 6:1 ( 3:1 x 2:1)

 

AK, You rule, great pics dude.

 

Jason, If things are so fucked up that you have to use a ZC with only one person, and only one rope to yard someone out, then I am afraid that someone is dead.

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I never understood Z and C systems until I started aid climbing and had to pull a pig. Then it was like, "Oh, duh!"

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