Photos from MeadowMom

The Crevasse

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Hi, everybody! Here are some Kodachromes taken in 1955 on Dauntless Glacier in the Coast Range of British Columbia. You see our strongest climber attempting to jump a big crevasse. Not succeeding, scrabbling to plant his ice axe and his feet as he slowly slides downward.

There is, of course, a rope involved. At the other end of the rope, the other half of the team, a competent belayer with the climbing rope around a securely embedded axe, ready for the quick catch.

The failed jumper swings back against this ice wall, and climbs back to his belayer calling for tension on the rope as needed.

Because his attempt to jump this big crevasse failed, the leader had to climb out of it and rejoin his belayer. A new strategy developed.

Held by the rope, he moved down over the lip of the crevasse and leaned far across, planting his ice axe in the opposite wall and attaching a short rope with a foot loop in it. 

Look at his feet. Those big old fashioned steel crampons were real waddled along very carefully in those spiky things! In the photo below, as the climber does “the splits”, his belayer and one crampon hold him securely.

(The deep blues down in the crevasse are empty space under ice shelves, not water.)

Image illustrating text

The leader was now straddling the crevasse. The smallest and lightest climber, protected by a second rope and a second belayer, climbed over on his back.

I must mention, delicately, ...that the second man has wet trousers from sitting in the snow belaying the person behind did we all.


With good rope handlers now on both sides of the crevasse, two things remained. First, to relay the heavier day-packs across.

Image illustrating text


The rest of the party rappeled about 25 feet into the crevasse.

Always protected by a belay, of course, they landed on a partially collapsed snow bridge inside the crevasse and tiptoed across it. Then, as you see above, they climbed a rope on the opposite wall of the crevasse by using short rope “stirrups” and prussik knots. (Prussiks were ingenious knots that slid upwards when they bore no weight, but would not slide down when weight was put on them.)




Done with the crevasse crossing, our party trundled on up Dauntless Glacier to the top of Mt. Vigilant, seen here peeking over its last ice bastions.

From the summit a better looking return route was picked out, to avoid the big crevasse. But large glaciers always have some surprises, and as I remember, we arrived back in base camp very late.


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AlanTabor's picture
Joined: 03/23/12
Note the Tyrolian hat was
Note the Tyrolian hat was considered derigure in certain social sets.

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