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Crevasse Fall - Can you hold one?
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TOPIC: Crevasse Fall - Can you hold one?
#343
Crevasse Fall - Can you hold one? 4 Years, 8 Months ago  
I believe Phil posted this in the Breeze, but I thought it pretty informative so am re-posting it here. I was amazed at how few successful arrest there were on a flat, snowy surface with the "victim" bum sliding in the crevasse as gentle as possible.



Another account of an attempted to ice ax arrest a partner in a place that could easily have been Bugaboo-Snowpatch col.

www.akfatal.net/Fogarty.htm

I wounder what the success rate of ice ax arresting a buddy fall while roped is in practice?

Anyone tried?
Matthew Breakey
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#344
Re: Crevasse Fall - Can you hold one? 4 Years, 7 Months ago  
Nope, didn't post that in the Breeze, but I WILL link to it. I knew that holding a fall with a rope team of two was tough, but I never actually tried it. Now I'm terrified. That means rope teams of 8 are safer right?
Phil Tomlinson
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#345
Re:Crevasse Fall - Can you hold one? 4 Years, 7 Months ago  
From accounts that I have read, 3 people on a rope are no better than 2. What tends to happen is that the "victim" slips and starts sliding, then weights the rope between one of the other partners ,not both at the same time. That partner gets ripped off and starts sliding. Now there are 2 "victims" sliding and they weight the rope between them and the 3rd climber, who now has no hope in stopping two sliding climbers. The three victims then take turns self arresting and then getting ripped of the snow by the other two falling climbers. Arrest occurs when they either 1) reach the bottom 2) at least two climbers self arrest at exactly the same time.

Who wants to practice synchro arresting? New olymipic sport?
Matthew Breakey
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#346
Re:Crevasse Fall - Can you hold one? 4 Years, 7 Months ago  
Eesh... be nice to find a nice big crevasse similar to the one in the video and practice 'real' technique... It does beg the question though if you are better off to just carry a rope to pull someone out, but not actually rope up - better one injured person in the bottom of a crevasse than two/three.
Phil Tomlinson
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#357
Re:Crevasse Fall - Can you hold one? 4 Years, 5 Months ago  
Hi Matt,

Holding falls on steep slopes and holding crevasse falls are quite different. I agree with your logic that a team of 3 is not better than a team of 2 on a steep snow slope. The recent accident on Liberty Ridge is perhaps and example of this.

For glacier travel though, a team of 3 is definitely safer than 2. That being said, travel in a team of 2 is commonly done - with increased caution / practice and skills.

How difficult / feasible it is to hold a crevasse fall changes dramatically depending on the steepness of the glacier and the snow conditions. Going uphill or flat, with soft snow, and no slack rope - it is dead easy to single handedly hold a crevasse fall - just lean back; the rope cutting into the lip does most of the work.
But going steeeply downhill, or if the glacier is ice - then watch out - likely impossible to hold your partners fall.
That You-tube video was definitely alarming, but not quite realistic I dont think. An icy'er lip than the type of hidden crevasses your most likely to fall into.
Paul Taylor
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#358
Re:Crevasse Fall - Can you hold one? 4 Years, 5 Months ago  
Thanks Paul for the reply.

I have never actually held a crevasse fall or been caught falling into a crevasse. Most stories I hear agree with what you say in that people don't free fall into an open crevasse. In most cases, people partially break through with packs, arms or torso partially holding their weight and the rope holding the remainder.

Any stories or experience is welcome as it is hard to find hard fact. The best information we have is anecdotal.

I still wish there was a better source verified information. One example that has many contradictory opinions is type of rope to be used on a glacier. Is a stretchy rope (i.e. Beal Rando 8 mm) or semi-static rope (type B caving ropes or functionally any 10 mm climbing rope) better?

Stretchy ropes are designed to minimize fall force which is really important because most glacier anchors are poor at best. Semi-static ropes are designed to greatly reduce fall distance (1.5 m from 3.5 m) at the penalty of a moderate increase in fall force (i.e. 4kN to 5kN). I guess it depends on what you are most scared of. Apparently, most crevasse injuries are caused by short falls which a dynamic rope would not prevent (you would hit the wall or bottom before it stopped you), but there are also many cases of the anchor /protection not holding which does not favor more static ropes. 4-5kN is equivalent to holding 1000lb (400-500 kg) statically, not something any of us can do and far higher than anything an ice ax can do other than as a dead man.

Anyone want to run some tests?

Matt
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