Glacier Skills & Crevasse Rescue
This 2 day comprehensive course focuses on technical skills for glacier travel and crevasse rescue. Strong emphasis is placed on modern techniques; the same methods used by professional guides in glaciated venues such as the North Cascades, Mt Rainier, and Alaska.
Along the way we’ll dispel various myths and answer common questions including: How far apart should climbers be spaced on the rope? Do we need to carry pulleys or ascenders? Should we pre-tie prussiks on the rope? How common are crevasse falls?
Note: This course takes place on snow at Hurricane Ridge, not in glaciated terrain. Hurricane Ridge offers quick access to realistic training sites and minimal approach time.
• Equipment selection
• Rigging for glacier travel
• Rope setup, storage, and racking
• Roped travel
• Snow anchor construction
• Crevasse rescue: surface and drop loop hauling systems, 2:1, 3:1, and 6:1
• Fixed rope ascension
DAY 1 – Rigging for Glacier Travel, Anchors, and Crevasse Rescue Systems
We meet at 8:00am at the Olympic National Park Visitor’s Center in Port Angeles, WA for introductions, a quick gear check, and to carpool up the road to Hurricane Ridge.
In the morning we focus on equipment selection, knots & hitches, rigging for glacier travel, rope setup, storage, and gear racking. Before lunch we practice basic roped travel techniques including switchbacks and running belays.
In the afternoon we hike to a training location and focus on snow anchor construction, multi-point anchor equalization, and crevasse rescue, including 2:1 and 3:1 (“Z-pulley”) surface hauling systems.
DAY 2 – Fixed Rope Ascension, Drop-loop Hauling Systems
Again we meet at 8:00am at the Olympic National Park Visitor’s Center, this time beginning the day with fixed rope ascension using basic equipment. Around mid-morning we head up to Hurricane Ridge, gear up, and hike into our training location.
Crevasse rescue systems are the focus of the remainder of the day as we elaborate on techniques introduced on the previous afternoon. More advanced techniques are introduced include self-tending ratchets, and drop loop hauling systems (“C-pully” systems) up to 6:1 mechanical advantage.
Participants will get to experience all three roles in crevasse rescue scenarios: holding the fall, building the system, and being the victim.
The course wraps up at the end of the day with a debrief and presentation of certificates. Expect two big days of learning!
☐ Backpack: 30-45 liter internal frame pack (ex: Black Diamond Speed 40).
☐ Ice axe: 55-70cm mountaineering axe (ex: Petzl Snowalker, Summit, or Sum’Tec). No leash is required. RENT
☐ Crampons: 10 or 12 point steel mountaineering crampon. Make sure that your crampons are compatible with your boots (ex: Petzl Irvis or Vasak). RENT
☐ Harness: Alpine harness with adjustable leg loops (ex: Petzl Adjama). For safety reasons, your harness needs to be less than 10 years old and in good condition. Be sure to check the fit of your harness. RENT
☐ (3) Locking carabiners: Pear shaped recommended (ex: Petzl Attache or Attache 3D).
☐ (4) Non-locking carabiners: Wire gate recommended (ex: Petzl Ange S or Ange L).
☐ 24′ of 6mm nylon cord
☐ 15′ of 7mm nylon cord
☐ Belay device (optional): Preferably with autoblocking functionality (ex: Petzl Reverso 4).
☐ Climbing helmet: Needs to be climbing specific (ex: Petzl Elios or Meteor III +). RENT
☐ Snowshoes or skis: For travel to and from our training site.
☐ Poles: Ski poles or trekking poles with powder baskets (ex: Black Diamond Traverse). RENT
☐ Mountaineering boots or ski boots
☐ Gaiters (optional): Provide a clean interface between our pants, boots, and crampons (ex: OR Flex-tex).
☐ Sunglasses: Glacier glasses or dark tinted wrap-arounds, should have full UV protection (ex: Julbo Dolgan). RENT
☐ Goggles (optional): Preferably with low light lenses (amber or rose) and UV protection (ex: Julbo Around Excel or Down).
☐ Warm hat: Fleece, wool or synthetic.
☐ Sun hat: Baseball cap, visor, etc.
There are many layering combinations for your upper body that will work well. Use the following recommendations as guidelines:
☐ Baselayer top: Light to medium weight synthetic fabric (ex: First Ascent Midweight 1/4-Zip Baselayer or First Ascent Solarfoil Hoodie).
☐ (1-2) Insulating layers: Fleece, softshell or synthetic/down. Two lighter layers are more versatile than one heavy layer (ex: First Ascent Sandstone Hoodie, Hangfire Hoodie, or Accelerant Jacket).
☐ Hardshell jacket with hood: Lightweight and waterproof (ex: First Ascent BC-200 Jacket).
☐ Synthetic or down insulated jacket: Synthetic or down (ex: First Ascent Ignitor Jacket).
☐ Baselayer bottoms (optional) (ex: First Ascent Midweight Baselayer Pants)
☐ Softshell climbing pants: Lightweight, breathable synthetic fabric. Zip-off trekking pants also work (ex: First Ascent Guide Pants or Mountain Guide Lite Pants).
☐ Hardshell pants: For adverse weather. These must have full side zips (ex: First Ascent Rainier Storm Shell Pants).
☐ Sunscreen: SPF 30 or greater, avoid spray on (ex: Doc Martin’s of Maui).
☐ Lip balm: With SPF protection.
☐ Water bottles(s) or hydration system: Should have a screw top (no bike bottles); hydration system should have an insulated tube.
☐ Thermos (optional): Half-liter size recommended.
☐ Compact camera: Great for remembering the rope systems we’ll cover.
☐ Personal first aid kit: Band-Aids, blister repair, anti-diarrheal (Immodium), antacid, ibuprofen or aspirin, as well as any personal prescription medications (be sure to discuss these with us).
- Understanding of basic climbing/mountaineering equipment: ice axe, crampons, harness, helmet, ropes, etc.
- Basic mountaineering skills, specifically snow climbing and ice axe arrest.
- Experience climbing, skiing, or traveling on glaciers is helpful but not required.
- Good physical fitness is required for this program.
- Guiding and instruction
- 3:1 ratio (4:1 max)
- Group equipment: ropes, pickets and other technical gear.
- Permit costs
- Lodging and transportation
- Personal equipment and food
WHERE TO MEET
Olympic National Park Visitor Center, in Port Angeles, WA.
3002 Mount Angeles Road
Port Angeles, WA 98362
Option A: Fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. From here the drive to Port Angeles takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Option B: Fly into Port Angeles. Kenmore Air flies daily from Sea-Tac and is an Alaska Airlines partner (domestic flights can be booked with Port Angeles as the destination).
Many options exist in Sea-Tac. There’s also a Budget Rent-A-Car in Port Angeles.
Many options exist in Port Angeles including hotels, bed & breakfasts, and hostels.
We strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance for your program. Note that many plans require you purchase insurance within 21 days of your initial deposit.
See our Weather & Avalanche Resources page.
- Alpine Climbing: Techniques to Take You Higher by Mark Houston & Kathy Cosley
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