Crevasse Rescue - Online Information

Equipment for Travelling in Glacier Terrain

  • 9 to 10mm "Single" Climbing Rope - 30-50m depending on number of people and size of crevasses in terrain
  • 2 x 5 meter lengths of 7 mm cordlette
  • 1 x 1.5 meter length of 7 mm cordlette
  • 4 non locking carabiners that are the same shape
  • 2 locking carabiners
  • 2 double slings
  • Harness


NOTE: the 7mm cords will be used for prussiks and may also be used for anchors. If used for prussiks, their diameter must be sized according to the diameter of the glacier travel rope. If the cord is less than 7mm it should not be used for anchors.

Knots and Hitches

These are the minimum type of knots used in glacier travel and crevasse rescue:

  • Overhand knot
  • Girth hitch
  • Figure Eight Knot
  • Garda Hitch
  • Prussik Knot

Roping up for Glacier Travel

ACGM Ski Guide Cliff Umpleby on Roping Up for Glacier Travel

  • Size of crevasses determine distance between participants
  • Make sure there is always rescue rope
  • Carry extra rescue rope under top lid of pack
  • Middle people use figure eight to clip into rope, easy to clip out for mixed terrain
  • Person at end of rope consider tying-in if on a long glacier travel
  • Carry prussik cords neatly bundled on harness, untied (most flexible for using on anchor or as prussik)
  • When travelling keep rope slack to a minimum

Crevasse Rescue Part I - Building An Anchor

Watch ACGM Ski Guide Cliff Umpleby Build anchors with Ice Axe and Skis

GOAL: build a safe anchor in order to check on victim and possibly raise victim

  1. Dig a T slot deep enough to strongly hold the axe, picket or skis.
  2. Depth of T slot depends on density and strength of snow.
  3. Try to not to disturb the snow in front of the trench
  4. Make sure T slot under cuts the trench so that the anchor cannot pop out
  5. Girth hitch a long sling, webbing or cord to the middle of the skis, axe or picket
  6. Firmly seat the skis, axe or picket - backfill to prevent movement

Crevasse Rescue Part II - Transfer Load

Watch ACGM Ski Guide Cliff Umpleby Transfer the Load

GOAL: Secure victim to anchor to allow rescuser to safely check on victim

  1. Tie prussik onto victim line
  2. Tie an overhand knot/fig 8/fishermans in end of prussik cord
  3. Locker prussik onto anchor
  4. Remove slack, gently load the prussik
  5. Check if area safe for rescuer (probe or axe) - if not, recuser attaches themself via 2nd prussik to rope for safety.
  6. Backup victim prussik
    1. Clove hitch main line onto same locker
    2. OK to use same carabiner, keep it brief (static load)
    3. Lock carabiner
    4. Take slack out of the system

Crevasse Rescue Part III (a) - Check on Victim

Watch ACGM Ski Guide Cliff Umpleby Check on Victim and Create a 2:1 Pulley

GOAL: Safely check on victim to decide on best course of action for rescue

  1. For possible future use, put a couple of figure eights onto rescue line close to anchor
  2. Rescuer safely moves to the crevasse to contact the victim
    • Prussic down the rescue line OR Rappel down rescue line with munter (remember to have personal prussic to back up rappel)
    • Make sure NOT to drop snow from lip onto victim
  3. Several courses of action, depending upon health/capabilities of victim and crevasse structure:
    • If victim is unconscious or injured it might require rappeling to victim
    • Victim may be able to prussic/climb out - make sure to belay where possible
    • Victim may be able to be lowered to walk out of crevasse - make sure to belay
    • May require victim to be raised out - make sure to prep the edge for smooth running for rescue line

Crevasse Rescue Part III (b) - Drop Loop for 2:1 Pulley

Watch ACGM Ski Guide Cliff Umpleby Check on Victim and Create a 2:1 Pulley

GOAL: Drop a 2:1 pulley and attempt to safely raise victim

  1. Prep the edge for smooth running for rescue line
  2. Drop a loop and locking carabiner to victim (with or without a pulley)
  3. Victim clips in
  4. Add a prussik to haul line, tie to anchor to act as safety brake. To ensure this prussic can be used for a Z pulley:
    • Use a long cord for this prussic line
    • Tie a knot close to the prussic
  5. Raise victim

Crevasse Rescue Part IV - Z Pulley

Watch ACGM Ski Guide Cliff Umpleby create a Z Pulley

  1. Put Garda knot onto anchor, feed haul line through
  2. Backup Garda - put prussik onto victim rescue line, tie with knot close to prussik
  3. Tie prussik into anchor
  4. Clip carabiner into shoulder of prussik knot

Crevasse Rescue - Reversal of System

Watch ACGM Ski Guide Cliff Umpleby reverse the system

  1. Leave garda backup prussik intact
  2. Put Another prussik onto haul line, knot close to prussik, put in carabiner
  3. Put carabiner into anchor, then build block and tackle
  4. Pull in block and tackle, tie off
  5. Release garda knot
  6. Put in tied off munter hitch
  7. Gently release block and tackle lower weight onto munter
  8. Gently release munter, lower victim

Crevasse Rescue - Ascending the Rope


more to come...