Crevasse Rescue School

June 20-21, 1992

A Crevasse Rescue school was held the weekend of June 20 and 21 on the north side of Mt. Hood. There were a total of 13 in the class. Leader was Sue Sullivan and assistant leaders were John Pegg and Saundra Melinder. Other participants included Deborah Hibbard, Janie Thomas, Kathryn Harrington, Karin Thompson, Linda Erz, Marc SanSoucie, Jamie Kiley, Pat Queen, Don McLaughlin and Kyle Merriam.

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. The weather was warm and pleasant, the bugs weren’t bad, and the group was very congenial. John Pegg shared with us some of his knowledge of the stars as we enjoyed the cloudless, starlit evenings.

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 the group got comfortable with the idea that a snow anchor can be a solid belay anchor. On Saturday afternoon, we returned to the cabin and set up a couple of prussik stations off the balcony of the cabin, and people practiced the art of prussiking.

On Sunday, everyone’s trust in snow anchors was put to the test, as various members in the group were lowering into a drippy crevasse and were pulled out by the others. 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. Kyle Merriam was especially glad to get out, while she was hanging in the crevasse, a large chunk of the wall broke off not far away and crashed into the abyss. The glacier also kept us alert with occasional groans, pops and cracks during the day it was a sobering reminder that glaciers are serious business.

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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