Crevasse rescue incident on Coleman Glacier

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07 Jun 2007 14:05 #178254 by 0
From www.tetongravity.com/forums/showthread.php?t=87088

emailed first person account

Original Message
From: Name Omitted
Subject: Crevasse fall Mt. Baker

Hey there,

Had an "exciting" time yesterday...

I fell into a crevasse on Mt. Baker yesterday about 4:30am. I was
leading our group and as I tried to jump over the crevasse, my feet
punched through the platform I was standing on and I fell about 45 feet
down upside down into the crevasse, hitting my head on the wall of the
crevasse on the way down. My chest harness brought me upright and I
thankfully was caught by my all women rope team. The next person on the
rope got dragged about 15 ft.
from the edge of the crevasse. Luckily the team that just jumped the
crevasse in front of me was a training group for Bellingham Mountain
Rescue.
They helped pull me up with a rope on each side of the crevasse, which
was helpful because the fall had deeply entrenched the climbing rope
into the snow. It took about 45 minutes to get me out. I was very calm
the entire time and even had a radio to communicate with the team up
above. Exciting, but I don't feel I need to do that again....

The attachment is the photo I took from down in the crevasse. You can
see the entrenched rope and the two rectangles to the left where my feet
punched through. I don't think the photo does justice to how far down I
was or to the overhanging snow at the lip, however. I tried to take a
photo looking down, but my camera wouldn't focus on "infinity and
beyond" I guess.....

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  • Larry_Trotter
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07 Jun 2007 19:20 #178257 by Larry_Trotter
Replied by Larry_Trotter on topic Re: Crevasse rescue incident on Coleman Glacier
Gulp! ..... a 45 foot vert drop.... That is stunning. I assume the crew had rope training. I wonder if anyone yelled "Falling!" (what yer supposed to do when it happens....). Oh yea... they should retire that 9mm rope.

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  • Volcanogrrl
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08 Jun 2007 14:42 #178268 by Volcanogrrl
Replied by Volcanogrrl on topic Re: Crevasse rescue incident on Coleman Glacier
wow, I wonder if I'd have presence of mind to yell "falling"... pretty sure it'd be something else...
That's scary.

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  • scoobydoo
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09 Jun 2007 00:10 #178274 by scoobydoo
Replied by scoobydoo on topic Re: Crevasse rescue incident on Coleman Glacier
Hi,
I'm the one that fell into that crevasse. The fall was shockingly fast....there wasn't time to yell falling or anything else for that matter!

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09 Jun 2007 05:26 #178275 by kam
scoobydoo: do you have the photo to show?

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  • Kyle Miller
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09 Jun 2007 12:11 #178277 by Kyle Miller
Replied by Kyle Miller on topic Re: Crevasse rescue incident on Coleman Glacier
Yeah that was quite the story of the day after that everyone was traversing over to the right hand side
Glad to hear you got out allright
I just realized thats My friends trip report on TGR and if Im correct
Kam were you on baker that day and if you were I think you were the guy who Motivated me to hike the extra 10 minutes to the true Summit ????

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  • scoobydoo
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09 Jun 2007 23:03 #178279 by scoobydoo
Replied by scoobydoo on topic Re: Crevasse rescue incident on Coleman Glacier
Here is the photo from inside the crevasse looking up. You can see the two rectangles which is where my feet punched through as I jumped.
Attachments:

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09 Jun 2007 23:57 #178280 by 0
thx scoobydoo - now that's a sight I really would prefer not seeing anytime soon

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  • Jason_H.
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10 Jun 2007 09:25 - 10 Jun 2007 09:29 #178281 by Jason_H.

Hi,
I'm the one that fell into that crevasse. The fall was shockingly fast....there wasn't time to yell falling or anything else for that matter!


When I fell in a crevasse on rainier, I didn't have time to holler either. Very weird. I remember just falling and thinking, at the time, it was an avalanche (it was January). I remember landing and looking to my right (I had turned around somehow) into blackened space with wisps of light hinting at the depths. If I had leaned right instead of left when I sat up, I would have fallen much, much further.



I didn't feel the same climbing for about a season after. Made me think a lot more. You can see my see my skin track behind me in the photo above which is where i fell and climbed out. Where the snow is seen is the only place it reconsolidated. This crevasse collapsed in a much bigger area than you can see...

Glad you are safe and I thought I'd share my wild experience, too.

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  • Double E
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10 Jun 2007 13:03 #178282 by Double E
Jason/Scoobydoo:  thanks for the scary but fascinating pictures.  Glad you both made it out OK out of your respective "incidents".

Jason:  I'm curious, how was the snowpack that year and the weather that day?  Newby question here ....  I'm sorta thinking that given good visibility like you had, crevasse falls in January are VERY rare unless you have a really thin snowpack and/or warm temps (??)   And which glacier was that on? 

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  • Jason_H.
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11 Jun 2007 12:22 #178286 by Jason_H.
Double E. this fall was on the Ingraham Direct route on Rainier at about 13.5 in 2001(?). There were high winds on the upper mountain (that picked up late in the day) and, being early january, the snow hadn't had time to build up a good solid base. Overall, this time of year between whenever the first snows come and january is the time of year that glacier travel worries me most. Crevasse danger is high then and I don't think you hear of many incidents because there aren't that many climbers out and about.

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  • garyabrill
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11 Jun 2007 14:29 #178289 by garyabrill
Replied by garyabrill on topic Re: Crevasse rescue incident on Coleman Glacier

Jason/Scoobydoo:  thanks for the scary but fascinating pictures.  Glad you both made it out OK out of your respective "incidents".

Jason:  I'm curious, how was the snowpack that year and the weather that day?  Newby question here ....  I'm sorta thinking that given good visibility like you had, crevasse falls in January are VERY rare unless you have a really thin snowpack and/or warm temps (??)   And which glacier was that on? 


The lesson I picked up years ago is that unless completely bridged and not active, the likelihood of bad bridges in winter has to do with the rate of snowfall vs. the rate of glacier movement. I went in on Glacier while skinning with Carl Skoog 15 years ago. The crevasse had a "bridge" of 8" about 2' wide, then a lip of 2' thickness, 4 feet wide, then nothing for the next couple hundred feet. Lucky I caught myself with my elbows on the 2' thick lip. There hadn't been a lot of snow in the spring of '92 and we were in an active area, so.... The picture of the January incident shows the same thing, thin dry bridge on an active glacier. Recall there were six weeks of very dry, warm weather in January - early February this past winter. So the lesson is: if the glacier is active, and snowfall rates are low, all bets are off, even in winter.

I have the feeling that since the mid-80's some glaciers or portions of glaciers have essentially been inactive; little or no motion at all. My sense for that comes from the fact that the crevasses on these slow glaciers seem to always be in the same place....all that happens is that the old crevasses get bridged every year and then at some point in the summer fall in. A good example would be the Quien Saber - all but the very upper part, or the Sloan Glacier. Even the Heliotrope margin of the Coleman seems very stagnant (although the main corridor is very active). The Coleman moved very little on the Heliotrope edge until after the banner 98-99 snow year. About one year later the crevasses patterns seemed to change as the heavy accumulation must have sped up the glacier after some lag effect. (I don't know what the Coleman is doing now, relatively speaking, although coverage this year is very good above 6K).

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  • David_Coleman
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11 Jun 2007 18:21 - 12 Jun 2007 10:16 #178292 by David_Coleman
Replied by David_Coleman on topic Re: Crevasse rescue incident on Coleman Glacier
Hmmmm....Amar and I had this very discussion about how good a snow year it was above 5k.  He seemed to think it ended up below average.  This was further supported by Jason's opinion (and ultimately Amar and I saw evidence of this last week as well) that the East and North sides of Adams didn't look nearly as good as late June last year on his trip there in early May.  The East side of Adams last weekend had no snow down low, and the main icefalls on one of the SE Glaciers looked like late June or July.  The Adams Glacier is much more broken up than even late June of last year.  I also heard that the upper portion of the Kautz looked a bit thin already on Rainier (as of roughly a week ago).

I think the other thing about Hummel's crevasse experience is that it was up high, possibly on a wind scoured slope, which kept accumulations rather thin?

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11 Jun 2007 21:53 #178293 by Scottk
We had a crevasse fall on the Cowlitz in April 2005 1/2 hour out of Camp Muir. No one was hurt and my partner was able to prussik out. It was after a real windy night with blowing snow and the crevasse was bridged with dry snow and a thin wind crust on the surface. Those conditions always make me nervous because the snow is strong on the surface and weak beneath the surface crust. We didn't have skis, which would have bridged the crust and perhaps made things a bit safer.

I used to think that late winter and early spring are pretty safe because the snow pack was deep and the bridges were thick and strong. Although there may be some truth to that assumption I wouldn't take it to the bank...

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  • Lowell_Skoog
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11 Jun 2007 22:06 #178294 by Lowell_Skoog
Replied by Lowell_Skoog on topic Re: Crevasse rescue incident on Coleman Glacier

Newby question here ....  I'm sorta thinking that given good visibility like you had, crevasse falls in January are VERY rare unless you have a really thin snowpack and/or warm temps (??) 


Early winter == scary crevasses.

One of my very few crevasse incidents was a February climb of Mt Rainier. Not serious -- I just punched a foot through.

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  • pin!head
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12 Jun 2007 07:12 #178296 by pin!head

Hmmmm....Amar and I had this very discussion about how good a snow year it was above 5k.  He seemed to think it ended up below average.  This was further supported by Jason's opinion (and ultimately Amar and I saw evidence of this last week as well) that the East and North sides of Adams didn't look nearly as good as late June last year on his trip there in early May.  The East side of Adams last weekend had no snow down low, and the main icefalls on one of the SE Glaciers looked like late June or July.  The Adams Glacier is much more broken up then even late June of last year. 


Last June the upper parking lot of Adams "reportedly" had 13' of snow in it....This number sticks in my mind, and so will the mid June picture of the roof of the Federal Privy.

My understadning is that we (S. Wash. & Oregon-Cal. Cascades/ 120% last year. ???with Lassen topping out the range?????

Luckily this year on some aspects "our favoite ones" the snow is holding very well so far...here below the 45th'.

Pin'

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  • garyabrill
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18 Jun 2007 13:24 #178363 by garyabrill
Replied by garyabrill on topic Re: Crevasse rescue incident on Coleman Glacier

Hmmmm....Amar and I had this very discussion about how good a snow year it was above 5k.  He seemed to think it ended up below average.  This was further supported by Jason's opinion (and ultimately Amar and I saw evidence of this last week as well) that the East and North sides of Adams didn't look nearly as good as late June last year on his trip there in early May.  The East side of Adams last weekend had no snow down low, and the main icefalls on one of the SE Glaciers looked like late June or July.  The Adams Glacier is much more broken up than even late June of last year.  I also heard that the upper portion of the Kautz looked a bit thin already on Rainier (as of roughly a week ago).


I think Adams is a different story - it receives snow in the same circumstances as the east slopes of the Cascades. The Stuart area definitely seemed low on snow this year, the Washington Pass area pretty normal but below average below 4500' or so. Baker is a different story. The Coleman glacier coverage a month or more ago looked to be better than all but a few years. And it makes sense. If one looks at storms in the latter part of the winter - there were many that put down new snow at Baker, with little except convergence snow elsewhere. Incidentally, snowpacks in the southern coast Range were exceptional, near 200% in parts of the Fraser drainage (AVA Blanche). So, deep snow north (especially high) and shallow snow south and particularly on the southern east slopes of the Cascades.

I think the other thing about Hummel's crevasse experience is that it was up high, possibly on a wind scoured slope, which kept accumulations rather thin?


I'm always nervous about laterally convex glaciers with shallow snowpack. Much safer, when possible, travelling in the troughs or bowls of glaciers.

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