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Core Skills Seminar: Crevasse Rescue

CREVASSE RESCUE: Join us for an evening skills seminar to de-mystify the process of keeping you and your team safe on a glacier.

Grab a bite to eat and break out the ropes and prusiks. We'll set up the z-rig and go through all the stages of crevasse rescue a couple times, allowing students to practice with the gear in the classroom. If time allows we'll also visit how to ascend a crevasse and principles of glacier travel and team tie-in. Proficiency sign off on portions of SIG 1, SIG 2, and SIG 3 available. Open to all! Please sign up here on Meetup or if you are a member you can also sign up on the SMC website for convenience. Membership is not required to attend this event. 

TO FEDERAL AND STATE LAND USE AGENCIES, OUR MEMBERS AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC: Sierra Mountaineering Club is a 501(c)7 not-for-profit social and recreational club.  Our mission is to be a community where people connect, learn and climb together. This is an official club-sponsored training held in Davis. If you would like to contact the club, please call (916)[masked] or [masked].



• Focused discussion, question and answer, digital visual presentation, and hands-on activities from 7:30 - 9:00 pm. 

• Seminar attendance includes a handout.

• Proficiency sign off available from 7:00 - 7:30 pm. Bring your member handbooks - any skills you demonstrate will be documented. This event specifically addresses portions of SIG 1, SIG 2, and SIG 3. View and print member handbook here

• Grab a bite to eat! A percentage of proceeds go back to the club. Round Table Pizza

• SMC T-Shirts for sale at this event!




1. Stop the fall and stay in self-arrest

2. Communicate with teammates to determine who will build anchor

3. Build the anchor using at least two equalized pieces of protection.

4. Transfer the load from the rope to the anchor using a friction hitch and releasable knots if possible.

5. Check on the climber to assess the situation

Rescue options:

· Prusik out by climbing the rope

· Transfer to a lower - climber descends to safety

· Transfer to a belay - climber climbs out to safety

· Transfer to a haul – team must lift climber out using mechanical advantage and human power

Team Haul

If hauling is inevitable, choose between:

- 3:1 “Z” Drag - simplest to build and monitor, but only possible without entrenched ropes or stopper knots.

- 2:1 Dropped Loop – more efficient and flexible, climber can assist


A glacier is a living “river of ice” that is  stretched, broken, compressed and deformed as it moves downhill. The twists, turns, hills and valleys it travels as it grinds downhill create hazards such as crevasses, icefalls, and seracs.

Parts of an alpine glacier:

·  Accumulation zone – below the headwall and bergschrund, snowfall exceeds snowmelt . Varying stages of snow cover and bridged crevasses.

·  Ablation Zone - Above the moraine, snowmelt exceeds snowfall. Bare and icy, with frozen rocks and gravel.

·  Firn Line - the transition between the accumulation and ablation zones

·  Moraine - Unstable piles of debris pushed in front and to the sides

Seasonal changes in conditions:

·  Late summer to first snowfall – bare, icy glacier with thinly bridged or open  crevasses

·  Winter – deep snow cover, weak snowbridges and hidden hazards

·  Late spring to mid-summer – firm surface snow, well-bridged crevasses and easily identified hazards

Locations and types of hazards:

·  Transverse crevasses - most common, most deep; created by glacial tension, typically perpendicular to travel and on the outside edges of a turn.

·  Marginal crevasses - gap between the glacier and the mountain at the edges

·  Longitudinal crevasses - crevasses the run parallel to travel

·  Bergschrund - the large gap between the headwall and the highest reach of the glacier. Sometimes contains a moat. Often the most difficult obstacle, having steep ice.

·  Icefalls - formed where the glacier is broken up by steepening and convexity. Usually bordered by zones of compression.

·  Seracs – formed where crevasses intersect. Very unstable and unpredictable.

·  Moulins - very dangerous “well” in the ablation zone where a surface stream falls into a crevasse and flows under the glacier.

Effective team travel

·  Tie in using Butterfly or Figure 8 on a bight

·  Decide whether to pre-place prusiks or use stopper knots

·  Order climbers according to skill and ability

·  Either step over or end run crevasses

·  Belay crossings or climbing when necessary

·  When appropriate, hold the rope to sense tension and partner movement

·  Anticipate teammates movement and maintain appropriate tension and attention

Glacial routefinding tips

·  Shift between big picture and close-up while navigating

·  Find and link crevasse-free zones : inside of turns, zones of compression

·  Use time of day / year to your advantage

·  Memorize major terrain features

·  Mark / record your route with wands, topo map or GPS

Spacing, 60 meter rope

·  3 climbers w/ 10m spacing = 20m climbing / 40m carry (20 x 2)

·  4 climbers w/ 8m spacing = 24m climbing / 36m carry (18 x 2)

·  2 climbers w/ 10m spacing = 10m climbing / 50m carry (25 x2)

Spacing, 30 meter ropes

·  2 climbers w/ 8m spacing = 8m climbing / 22m carry (11 x 2)

·  3 climbers x 10m = 30m / carry another 30 meter rope

Individual glacier travel gear:


·  Tied in to a 50 - 60 meter 8-9mm dry

·  Or one or two 30 meter 8mm dry

Ice axe(s)

Snow picket, 2 ft

Ice screw


·  Two singles (2ft.)

·  One double (4ft.)

·  Cordellette, 7mm, 20ft.

·  Prusik, loop of 6mm cord


·  Four lockers (2 pear, 2 small)

·  Three non-lockers (wiregates)



• SEMINAR FEE: $20, open to all

• DATE: Friday, July 25th, 2014

• LOCATION: Round Table Pizza, 2151 Cowell Blvd Suite A, Davis, CA

• INSTRUCTOR: Darren Shutt, [masked], (916)[masked]





1. Visit SMC on Meetup:

2. Find the Core Skills Seminar you want

3. RSVP and pay the seminar fee


SMC T-Shirts for sale at this event! 

Support the club by wearing these T-shirts with pride! $25, 100% Cotton, Adult sizes S, M, L, XL


Sierra Mountaineering Club is a 501(c)7 not-for-profit social and recreational mountaineering club.  Our mission is to be a community where people connect, learn and climb together.

For more information or questions about this event, please contact the listed SMC instructor.

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  • Darren S.

    RSVPs are open...will be announced shortly.

    July 16, 2014

6 went

  • Darren S.
    Event Host
  • Brian H. +1
  • Ian M. +1
  • A former member

Your organizer's refund policy for Core Skills Seminar: Crevasse Rescue

Refunds offered if:

  • the Meetup is cancelled

Payments you make go to the organizer, not to Meetup. You must make refund requests to the organizer.

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