Mount Olympus: Crevasse Probing with Boot

Reporting two near misses on a climb of Mount Olympus. 1) Probing the edge of crevasse with boot (unfortunate choice), and 2) Rockfall to the neck (glancing blow - whew!)
David Shema David Shema
November 11, 2015
Mount Olympus: Crevasse Probing with Boot
Mount Olympus & Blue Glacier

Mount Olympus - July 25-27


Two near misses occurred  on my climb of Mount Olympus. None resulted in any injuries.

Near Miss 1: Our party was crossing the Blue Glacier by headlamp. 

The leader on the first rope encountered a snow bridge across a 2-3 foot wide crevasse. He probed the bridge with his foot, punched through it, and began to fall in.

He extended his foot which became braced on the opposite side of the crevasse, sat down on the surface of the snow on the rope team side of crevasse, all the while jamming his axe into the ice beside him. In this way he prevented falling in. 

When we debriefed the incident the rope leader emphasized that the near miss could have been avoided if he had probed with his axe and not his foot. He wanted to emphasize the importance of probing and using your axe to do it. 

Near Miss 2:  The party was rappelling down the summit block via a steep gully. 

Two rope leaders were at the top to ensure proper rappel set-up for all participants, and a third was down in the gully directing traffic. A descending climber dislodged several stones which shot down the gully. 

A stone about the size and shape of a pack of playing cards struck the leader directing traffic below in the neck. By incredible good luck it was a glancing blow that only left temporary redness. The leader then moved to a better position in the gulley, away from potential rockfall. 

When we debriefed the incident it was obvious that the leader made a bad decision to be in the gully below descending climbers. 


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Bob Bolton
Bob Bolton says:
Nov 18, 2015 11:03 PM

Nice pic of the Blue Glacier! Is that your photo?