Crevasse Rescue School

June 25-27, 1993

A Crevasse Rescue School was held the weekend of June 25-27 on the north side of Mt. Hood. There was a total of 15 participants in the class. Leader was Sue Sullivan, assistant leader John Pegg. Other participants included Kathryn Harrington, Marc SanSoucie, Don Harrold, James Schick, Chris Steele, Aaron & Scott Ward, Michelle & Tim McCall, Kristen Kaminski, Ruby Seitz, Cathleen Rafferty and Mark Temple.

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. In spite of the heavy snow year, access to the cabin was clear of snow.

Saturday turned out to be warm and pleasant, and the bugs weren’t bad — a good day for snow practice! 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. The group also practiced setting the Z pulley in preparation for the following day’s session on the glacier. Some members of the group did a simulation of a one-person rescue (that is, one member of a two-person rope team rescuing the other). It was a very eye-opening experience to discover just how difficult such a rescue can be.

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 pussiking (people predominantly preferred packless prussiking).

On Sunday, the weather dawned foggy and still. We had to wand our way to the Elliot Glacier to be sure of finding our way back without mishap. On the Elliot, everyone’s trust in snow anchors was put to the test as various members of the group were lowered into a crevasse and were then 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! During a break in the action, Cathleen treated her rescue team to freshly made Sno-cones with lunch!

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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