Crevasse Rescue School

August 4-5, 1990

A Crevasse Rescue School was held the weekend of August 4 and 5 amid glorious sunshine and a multitude of crevasses on the Eliot Glacier on Mt. Hood. There were a total of 9 participants in the class; Oakridge was well represented in the group, with Jan and Rich Anselmo, Ruby Seitz, and Sandra Melinder all participating.

Tom Donnelly, fresh from close encounters with McKinley’s crevasses, added much to the group with his stories of his recent climb, and was a dashing example of mountain fashion in his Ernest Hemingway hat. Marc SanSoucie and Kathryn Harrington, Portland residents and enthusiastic newcomers to climbing, also joined the group. The leader was Sue Sullivan and assistant leader was Malcolm Johnson, who defended the role of the paper industry in Oregon’s economy in between discussions of knots and anchors.

During the week before the field trip, a class session was held at the Obsidian Lodge to review knots, snow anchors and belay techniques that are useful in crevasse rescue and general glacier travel.

Saturday of the field trip weekend was spent in hands-on practice of snow anchor and belay techniques. Snow conditions were ideal for setting anchors, and most of the group got comfortable with the idea that a snow anchor can be a “bomb-proof” belay anchor.

On Sunday, everyone’s trust in snow anchors was put to the test, as various members in the group were lowered into a deep, drippy, overhung crevasse and were pulled out, using the “Z” pulley technique, by the others in the group. Most people were very happy to get out, after 20 minutes or so spent wondering if the folks up above REALLY knew what they were doing.

The group returned to the trailhead with a better appreciation for the trustworthiness of snow anchors, and the necessity to have the appropriate rescue gear close at hand in the event of a crevasse fall. All agreed that a review of these techniques is important to safe glacier travel—and a fun way to spend the weekend as well!

— Jan Anselmo

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