Climbing glaciers can be one of the most exciting types of climbing you can try. However, as much as it is a thrilling activity, it can also be risky. Among others, there is a danger of falling into a crevasse – a fracture or a crack in the ice. This makes it crucial to learn the fundamentals of the crevasse rescue.
Be equipped with the right knowledge and skills before you head out for a climb. From the right crevasse rescue gear to the appropriate techniques, keep on reading and learn from the insights we’ll be sharing.
Crevasse Rescue Gear
As you learn how to ice climb, you will be taught the importance of investing in the right equipment, among others, you need to have the best tools, which should include the following:
- Snow picket
- Locking and non-locking carabiners
- Nylon slings
- Accessory cord or climbing rope
A Step-by-Guide on How to Perform a Crevasse Rescue
Now that you know the must-haves for your crevasse rescue gear, it’s time that you learn the specifics of how to complete the rescue. We’ll break it down into several sections and discuss each more below.
1. Stop the Fall
The first thing that needs to be done is to stop the fall as soon as possible. For the climber, performing a self-arrest is possible by placing an ice axe on the snow to prevent sliding. Kicking your feet into the snow will also help to arrest the fall. Your finger strength is also important to maintain your position.
2. Set-Up an Anchor
After arresting the fall, the next step is to build an anchor. See to it that the anchor is solid enough. This is where the weight will be transferred, so it must be strong to support the climber. It must also be robust to support the hauling process.
At this point, climbers will be in constant communication with each other to know who is in the best position for setting up an anchor. The person on the crevasse, on the other hand, will hold on as much as possible to prevent falling.
The rescuer will then be using a friction hitch, such as prussik while moving to the climber on the crevasse. Then, the rescuer will build an equalizer anchor next to the person being rescued. To do this, two pieces of protection must be used at the very least. A master point will then be created where the climbing rope will be attached.
3. Transfer the Climbers Weight
Now that the anchor system is ready, the next step for executing the crevasse rescue is to transfer the weight of the climber. This shift is important to prevent getting deeper into the crevasse. By doing this, the person being rescued can finally get off the self-arrest position.
The rescuer will set up a friction hitch on a rope that connects to the climber on the crevasse. This will then be connected to the master anchor point with the use of a locking carabiner. A back-up knot, such as a clove hitch, will then be tied by the rescuer. This will be clipped to the master anchor point, again, with the use of a locking carabiner. At this point, the person being rescued is now connected to the main anchor and the weight can shift.
4. Evaluate the Situation
Before you proceed to your next move, you need to have a thorough assessment of the situation. You need to communicate. The rescuer will self-belay until reaching the lip of the crevasse.
At this point, the rescuer will see if the person stuck in the crevasse can complete the climb alone. If yes, then they will be using their prusiks and use the self-rescue method to go up. Otherwise, they need to decide on the hauling system that will be used to get the other person up.
5. Close the Crevasse
Before setting up the hauling system, you will need to prepare the lip of the crevasse by sealing it temporarily. You can be creative with the use of available tools depending on what you have with you. You can use your climbing backpack or ice axe if they will fit on the crevasse.
Evaluate the condition of the lip, making sure that it will not worsen. Scoop excess snow from the area surrounding the lip and use it to cover the opening. Make sure that you do not drop snow on the climber who is below.
6. Arrange Your Hauling System
To complete the rescue, the last step is to get the hauling system ready. You will require a lot of physical strength to complete this. Having the right hauling system in place will make it require considerably lesser effort on your end. The available gear, condition of the snow, and your capabilities will dictate the right choice for the hauling system during the rescue.
Among others, the 3:1 Z-pulley system is one of the most popular for hauling. If you are a climbing team with at least three people, this will be a great choice. The name is about the unit of force that can be pulled on the rope. Hence, what this means is that it will be pulling three times the force that will be exerted. Pay attention to the right position of the pulleys to ensure a smooth flow during the rescue.
Regardless of the hauling system that you will be using, one of the most important is to make sure that the direction of the rescuer will be pulling away from the crevasse. While doing the rescue, always check on the victim. Pulling harder can compromise the safety of the victim. Make sure as well that all the carabiners are locked.
Allow us to answer a few of your questions before we end this article.
Q: How do you rescue crevasse?
To rescue crevasse, you need to start with the right rescue gear. Once you have them, arrest the fall and build an anchor. Next, check the victim and get ready for the rescue. Once everything has been set, you can now prepare the hauling system and proceed with the rescue.
Q: What to do if you fall into a crevasse?
When you fall into a crevasse, the first thing to do is to not panic. Then, if you have an ice screw with you, use it so you will not fall deeper into the crevasse. Using your crampons and ropes can also help you to get out of the crack.
Q: How deep is a crevasse?
The depth of a crevasse can reach as much as 40 meters. This will depend on the amount of water that is present inside, among other environmental factors. Wind drifting and heat can also have an impact on how deep the crevasse is.
Globo Surf Overview
Learning the fundamentals of crevasse rescue is a must for anyone who is into ice climbing. This will let you save a life when a time comes that someone is stuck in a crevasse. Make sure that you have the right crevasse rescue gear, build a solid anchor, and learn the hauling system that will work best.