Oh no you didn't - The Crevasse

Monday, May 29, 2017.  Before I went to Denali, my research showed that large deep crevasses were rare. Yes you could fall into a hole up to your knees or your waist or even your chest. But those "swingers" where you were hanging by your rope in a crack were very rare.

On our second day, one of our team fell into a swinger (sled, pack and all). It took two guides about an hour to get it and him all out using snow anchors and pulleys. When we got to 14,000' camp, we learned that a climber from a different team had fallen into a swinger, broken his pelvis, and had to be airlifted off the mountain.

On my last day, coming down from 7,800' camp, the strange and unexpected occurred.  We were a rope team of five. I was second from last (number 4) and the guide was first. Number two on the rope post-holed through soft snow and fell down. After struggling a couple minutes he was able to right himself and continue down the hill. Number three on the rope jumped over the hole but the sled she was dragging behind her caught the lip of the hole and tore it open even larger.

By the time I reached the hole it was too large to jump. The guide yelled back to me instructions to probe around it and find a stable bridge to cross. As I moved laterally, probing with my ski pole, the snow around me gave way and down I went. Seconds later I found myself dangling 6 feet below the surface of a 25 foot deep crevasse.

Inside the crevasse was beautiful. It was about 30 feet wide, 5 feet across at the top and 2 feet across at the bottom. I could see the snow bridge above me and the light shining through it to the bottom. Quiet. Surreal.

Climbers three and five had done their jobs beautifully. They had locked down and were holding me suspended on the rope. Minutes later the guide dropped a second rope into the hole which I clipped to my pack with a carabiner. After he hauled out my pack and my polls, I attached the second rope to my belay loop and my team pulled me to safety.

30-minutes later...I was shaken and a little chilled (how I like my martinis), but none the worse for wear. We found a solid bridge for climber five to cross. Onward we continued to base camp.


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