Crevasse Rescue School

June 29-30, 1991

A Crevasse Rescue School was held the weekend of June 29 and 30 on the north side of Mt. Hood, with a total of 11 participating. Leader was Sue Sullivan with Malcolm Johnson as assistant leader. Students were Sandra Melinder, Bill Bankston, Aaron Ward, John Pegg, Jon Levy, Deborah Hibbard, Janie Thomas, Scott Ward and Dallas Hemphill. During the week before the field trip, a classroom 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. For the weekend field trip, the group stayed at the Tilly Jane cabin just below Cloud Cap at Mt. Hood. This turned out to be a great place to stay … equipped with a wood stove and a sleeping loft, it was a cozy weekend retreat. The snow on the road to Tilly Jane made it a 10-minute walk from the cars to the cabin for those of us without 4-wheel drive; for those with 4-wheelers, it took about 15 hours to reach the cabin from the start of the snow! Most of the crew assisted in digging out and pushing out the beached 4-wheelers, providing additional aerobic exercise!

On Saturday, we found a snow patch not far from the cabin and practiced setting different types of snow anchors and use of snow 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 Saturday afternoon, we returned to the cabin and set up a couple of prusik stations off the balcony of the cabin, and people practiced the art of prusiking. Bill Bankston and Aaron Ward proved to be the most persistent prusikers, practicing long into the evening and providing entertainment for the rest of the group.

On Sunday, everyone’s trust in snow anchors was put to the test, as various members in the group were lowered into a deep, dripping, overhung crevasse and were pulled out by 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 prusik pros, Aaron and Bill, proved that prusik practice does make perfect, as both succeeded in climbing out before their rescuers had a chance to pull them out. 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!

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