Robert L. Peters

28 March 2011

Crossing crevassed terrain…

(even as they recede…)

When traveling across glaciers, it’s obviously best to avoid crevassed areas if at all possible. While skis lessen the possibility of punching through the snow layer in winter (a ski distributes your body weight more broadly than a boot), negotiating snow-bridges and moving safely above the snow- or firn-line* where underlying crevasses can lurk can be harrowing as well.

Photos (from the top): crossing The President Glacier, BC (photo by friend David Cormie); the sphincter-tightening process of negotiating melting snow bridges; belaying my partner Peter Aitchison as he jumps icy streams atop the firn (the water disappeared into bottomless sink-holes here and there with a terrifyingly-deep flushing sound); happily roped-up with colleagues on a Bugaboos ascent; crossing a tricky bit of steep glare-ice using French technique (pied à plat) for good crampon purchase, trying not to think about the long run-out below.

* the firn-line is the highest level to which the fresh snow on a glacier’s surface retreats during the melting season, or the line separating the accumulation area from the ablation area

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