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Thread: Crossing glaciers?

  1. #1

    Default Crossing glaciers?

    Was wondering if anyone had any safety tips or techniques for crossing glaciers while sheep hunting?

  2. #2
    Member shphtr's Avatar
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    Default

    Don't use the snow bridges in Aug.

  3. #3

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    If you're in a party, you need to be roped and trained in crevasse rescue techniques. Alaska Mountaineering School offers a Glacier Travel course that will fit this need. Other mountaineering schools will do the same.

    If you're alone, you need the training and equipment and some luck as well. Self-rescue from a crevasse is tough, even when you're not injured from the fall first.

    Yeah, I know people will blithely walk on glaciers and merely "watch out" for crevasses. Good luck with that.

  4. #4
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Tips on glacier crossing

    WH,

    This is a mountaineering skill that requires training, plain and simple. Getting your training over the Internet on a subject upon which your life may well depend may not be the smartest move. That said, here's my short list:

    1. Attend a mountaineering course that includes glacier traverses.

    2. NEVER do it solo.

    3. For repeat crossings through the same area, use wands.

    4. Rope up and know how to use an ice axe to arrest a fall.

    Good luck with your hunt!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    Red face glaciers

    I had an old timer tell me I was weak for not wanting to cross the glacier. I put crossing glaciers in the same boat as not carrying bear protection. You can do it for a long time with no problems. But sooner or later you will have an experience. And if you live through it you wont do it anymore.
    I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything, it has to do with how the day was spent. Fred Bear

  6. #6
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default This is the problem

    Quote Originally Posted by shphtr View Post
    Don't use the snow bridges in Aug.
    Sheep,

    This is the problem; you often cannot tell that you're on a snow bridge! In many cases the snow bridges a significant part of a crevasse and you don't know how thin it is (hence wands and roping up). You end up out in the middle where it is thinnest, break through, and then get the pleasure (assuming you survive the fall) of trying to climb back out without crampons, ice screws, ropes and the other anchors you need. How many sheep hunters do you know that bring this stuff with them, let alone know how to use it? Not many!

    No, I just tell folks to keep clear unless they are trained, equipped, and staffed to do it correctly.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
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    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  7. #7
    Member shphtr's Avatar
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    Default

    Mike,
    I actually have all the accoutrement's necessary for glacier crevasse rescue and have been trained to perform same but there is no way I would carry all the requisite equipment on a sheep hunt, therefor I do not cross snow covered glaciers when sheep hunting.

  8. #8
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Sheep hunters are not normal people

    Quote Originally Posted by shphtr View Post
    Mike,
    I actually have all the accoutrement's necessary for glacier crevasse rescue and have been trained to perform same but there is no way I would carry all the requisite equipment on a sheep hunt, therefor I do not cross snow covered glaciers when sheep hunting.
    Years ago I used to think all a person had to do to get a sheep was to work harder, go farther and climb higher than the "normal" sheep hunter. Then I found out about guys who did insane things like circumnavigate nearly the entire Tazlina Glacier solo, for a month, living out of a backpack while looking for the ultimate ram. That's when I realized that there's no such thing as a "normal" sheep hunter. I do know some guys bring the technical climbing gear with them, not because sheep live in those kinds of areas (they don't, as a rule), but just to access the area! It's crazy.

    So these days nothing surprises me anymore. But it's the new guys I worry about. It's one thing to take a calculated risk, and not really care if you live or die out there- I know people like that. But it's different when someone is too full of testosterone to know the difference between calculated risks, superb talent, and egotistical bravado. Sometimes I'm not sure I know the difference myself!

    Anyway, just trying to err on the side of caution. I don't like to tell folks some of the dumb things I did when I was younger, but if I knew then that I would have two kids and other people depending on me, perhaps I would have steered clear of solo glacier traverses, free climbing in the cliffs, and packing dead sheep off the mountains by myself. Okay... uh... well, maybe not. But at least I would have been a smarter idiot.

    Your training, even though you may not bring the gear with you on hunts, probably makes you more cautious, and I guess that's part of what I'm saying.

    Sheep season is only a month away!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

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    Exclamation

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    Sheep season is only a month away!

    -Mike
    Now Mike! Don't be moving the time back on me. Not one month - but...

    29.375 days
    or
    675 hours
    or
    42300 minutes
    or
    2538000 seconds

    Even less time until I fly out to the field. Of course these numbers will not be accurate by the time I finish this post.

    -Carnivore
    Everything that lives and moves will be food for you.
    Genesis 9:3

  10. #10
    Member Queen of Kings's Avatar
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    Default Not and Expert

    by any means, but a snow covered glacier is going to be much different than an solid ice glacier. The 3 times I have been involved with glacier travel while sheep hunting, the ice was solid, visible and I had no problem crossing or traveling on it. The first time in TMA I went prepared, with equipment and found it wasn't needed, the second and third time was in the Chugach and again was not needed. Often you will have to go 5 miles to get 1 foward due to going around the crevases, but my experience was on solid visible ice.
    2003 220 Hewescraft Sea Runner 115 Yam'y, Soft Top "Schmidt Happens"

  11. #11
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default There you go-

    Quote Originally Posted by Carnivore View Post
    Now Mike! Don't be moving the time back on me. Not one month - but...

    29.375 days
    or
    675 hours
    or
    42300 minutes
    or
    2538000 seconds

    Even less time until I fly out to the field. Of course these numbers will not be accurate by the time I finish this post.

    -Carnivore
    See, folks! I TOLD you they weren't normal!
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  12. #12
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Agree to disagree

    Quote Originally Posted by Queen of Kings View Post
    by any means, but a snow covered glacier is going to be much different than an solid ice glacier. The 3 times I have been involved with glacier travel while sheep hunting, the ice was solid, visible and I had no problem crossing or traveling on it. The first time in TMA I went prepared, with equipment and found it wasn't needed, the second and third time was in the Chugach and again was not needed. Often you will have to go 5 miles to get 1 foward due to going around the crevases, but my experience was on solid visible ice.
    QK,

    I don't want to get locked in combat over this or anything, but I really disagree with this advice. The whole problem with crevasses and snow bridges is that the ice often LOOKS solid, but it sometimes has a 500-foot chasm under a six-inch-thick shell of sun-melted ice that was snow last winter. There might be places where crevasses are readily apparent, but even the trained eyes of ice climbers have made fatal mistakes in this area.

    I would never advise anyone to give it a whirl- especially solo and with no gear or training. There was a time when I thought differently, until I ran into a friend of mine with extensive Alaska climbing experience. He patiently listened to my story, paused a moment (which caused me to really think about what he was about to say), and emphatically told me that you NEVER cross a glacier alone. I objected and his eyes bored holes into mine as he repeated his earlier statement. Three times. I never forgot it. Then I started reading climbing books and saw the same thing repeated over and over. Bravado, cavalier attitudes, overconfidence, feelings of superiority- these all seemed to be common links in the chain that led to fatal crevasse accidents. Identifying bridged crevasses is an inexact science at best, even when you know what you're doing. I'll take no more chances with them, as long as I have people in my life that are counting on me for support in some way.

    Sorry for coming on so strong, but there are lots of new hunters here, that could be emboldened to do something really foolish if they misunderstand what you're saying. I am fortunate to have lived long enough to look back on the days when I knew everything. I know that I'm not as smart as I thought I was (a fact of which my 16-year-old son occasionally reminds me). So... until I have some formal training, gear and a partner foolish enough to sign up, I'm staying off the ice. That leaves the rams on the other side to those better prepared or more willing than I to take a gamble.

    Regards,

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  13. #13
    Member Queen of Kings's Avatar
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    Default My bad

    I tried to add to the post before I hit send. I was going to say I hope I don't get bashed on this. Mike's advise or suggestions is to be listened to. I was probaly more lucky than not. Now for sure older, but wiser??? Would I do it again. can't say that I would or wouldn't. My post was my experience at that time and place only and not be advice for any one
    2003 220 Hewescraft Sea Runner 115 Yam'y, Soft Top "Schmidt Happens"

  14. #14

    Default Flying On Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Carnivore View Post
    Now Mike! Don't be moving the time back on me. Not one month - but...

    29.375 days
    or
    675 hours
    or
    42300 minutes
    or
    2538000 seconds

    Even less time until I fly out to the field. Of course these numbers will not be accurate by the time I finish this post.

    -Carnivore
    You're assuming you will be able to fly the day you want:-) We all know how that goes. I have a little more time, 9/5 my permit starts. It's like a little kit having to wait until after New Years to have Christmas when everybody else gets their presents on Christmas! This thread makes me feel better. I thought I was just being a pansy not wanting to cross a glacier.
    "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything."

  15. #15
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default heh heh- if you only knew!

    Quote Originally Posted by blackfoot View Post
    You're assuming you will be able to fly the day you want:-) We all know how that goes...
    Blackfoot,

    What you don't know is that he's the one that pioneered HALO jumps on sheep hunts! No worries about weather delays then, oh no! Just bring 'er on up to about 35 thousand, open the door and jump out! Who needs an airstrip, either? Just guide that old chute right on over to that nunatak in the middle of Stephens Glacier and blast away!

    What will they think of next?

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

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