Crevasses are terrifying

Crevasses are terrifying. To both the uninitiated and the seasoned climber they are giant holes in the ice that can be hidden, covered by snow, hundreds of feet deep, and can range in size from small enough to step over to big enough that you have to route find your way around it.

The reality of course is that with proper training and the appropriate gear the risk can be very much (though not completely) mitigated. For example, on my last climb on Mt. Shuksan, we ran into a number of different crevasses. The level of danger (and psychological terror) was increased due to the fact that visibility was extremely poor, so the first few we came across we didn’t see until we were right up on it. Our guide (who was leading the rope’d group) changed his tact a bit as we found more and more of them. Thankfully he had his GPS, without which I have no idea how he would have been able to find a path that would have been both around the crevasses and on target for the summit pyramid.

a crevasse on Mt. Shuksan

a crevasse on Mt. Shuksan

 

Just a small step over....

Just a small step over….

This particular crevasse (above), the second one we encountered, was just small enough for us to step over.

daylight's first crevasse

daylight’s first crevasse

This one, though, we had to go around. The of fog lifted in time for the photo, but we literally walked right up to this one without seeing it.

Big Shuksan crevasses

Big Shuksan crevasses

Crevasses in the distance. Luckily we didn’t have to get close to these.

Hiding

Hiding

Finally, as I said before, they hide. This one was just a bit too wide to step over, but was super long…we probably deviated 30 minutes from our path to get around this thing. Of course we couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of us, so it was a “best guess” as to which way would get us around the shortest side of it.

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