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Glacier Travel Crevasse Rescue

August 27, 2016

Coordinator: Mark Barnard

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On Saturday August 27, Mark and Fritz lead our annual SAC Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue course up on the Elliot Glacier on Mt Hood.

We had 10 people sign up for the course, but unfortunately several people were unable to make it at the last minute. Sara, Michael, Mika, Dan and Peter met us at Cloud Cap Campground where we hiked up the Cooper Spur then crossed over onto the Elliot glacier.

The glacier has been retreating over the last few years. In the past it only took a few minutes to get onto the glacier from the hiking trail. Today it took almost two hours of difficult climbing through boulder fields and scree to reach the snow! Once there we strapped on our crampons and divided into two rope teams, one with 4 climbers lead by Mark and the other with 3 led by Fritz. We worked or way up the glacier practicing crampon techniques, rope management and negotiating occasional rocky sections and crevasses. We practiced belaying team members across snow bridges and peering down into the depths of the crevasses around us.

While we were having our lunch, a big breeze came down off the mountain and blew one of our team member's helmet over a ridge and down onto another ridge that was 30 feet below us, and not easy to climb down to. This made for a good learning opportunity, so we placed three ice screws in some solid ice and build an anchor and belayed Mika down to retrieve the helmet. Once she had it she used two ice axes and climbed up the icy wall back to the team. Well done!

We then searched around and found a deep and scary enough crevasse to work with and discussed and demonstrated how to catch a fall, build an anchor with ice screws, a dead man and two pickets. Then we demonstrated how to set up a haul system with a 2:1 pulley and a 3:1 pulley system. We lowered several students down into the crevasse and then rescued them. It was awesome to see that our two lady climbers were able to pull a victim out of the crevasse with both the 2:1 and 3:1 systems without the help of any of the guys. Go girl power!

Everyone had the opportunity to build a 3:1 haul system and test it. It was a great learning experience for all of us.

By this time is was getting late in the afternoon, so we roped up one last time and descended the snowfield as low as we could then hopped over boulders back to the tail down the mountain and back to Cloud Cap.

We gathered at the camp site to unload and review the course. All the students were enthusiastic and did really well today. Everyone seemed pleased with the outing and the opportunity to be on the mountain and learn vital skills to climb safely.


Pre-Event Forum
[View Post-Event Forum]

Peter says:
Hi Mark, I signed up, even though it looks like the event is full. Let me know if you have a late cancellation, and space opens up.

Mark (leader) answers:
Stand bye. Someone may fall out. We'll see what we can do.

Peter answers:
Hi Mark, Looks like everyone who originally signed up is still attending. So I'll stand down unless I hear explicitly otherwise. Just want to make sure there is no confusion on whether I'm attending or not. I'd hate to have crossed signals where you guys are waiting for me at the trailhead while I'm sitting at home.

Mark (leader) answers:
Peter, We will make room for you, if you promise to help carry a rope or picket....:) glad to have you.

Peter answers:
OK. I'll be there!


Mark (leader) says:
OK Folks, we have 9 students and two instructors. Veteran SAC member Fritz Capel will be joining us this Sat on the Elliot Glacier for a day of high altitude fun on the snow. I recommend we be ready to head out from the Copper Spur camp ground no later than 9:00 am Sat. We plan to make this a one day outing. Bring layers of clothes-be ready for anything because the weather up on Hood can change quickly. Sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses, hat, a good lunch, at least 2L of liquid and plenty of snacks. Ice axe, helmet, crampons (pre-fit so we don't have to mess with them up there) Your belay device, two locking beaners and two non-lockers. prussic chords, any slings you'd like to bring. if you'd like to bring trekking poles, good. If you have a picket and want to bring it that's good too. I will bring Ice screws and ropes. I'll probably send out more info in the days to come. lets all watch the weather forecast and cross our fingers. Thanks Mark Barnard


Mika says:
If anyone is interested in carpooling from Portland, let me know! Mika

Fritz answers:
I'll be coming from Portland... SW, Beavertonish side. Where are you approximately? Planning on going up early Saturday and coming back late (not camping)?

Dan answers:
Hey Gang, Mika and I are going to carpool out from Portland. We're meeting at the Starbucks at Halsey and 102nd just off of 84 at 630 tomorrow morning. I've got room for two more in my car if anyone else wants to meet us there. Holler if you'd like to join. Just leave extra cars in the Fred Meyer/shopping plaza parking lot for the day. [see number above] if you want to call or text me.

Fritz answers:
(Best not to put vital contact details on this forum, as it is visible to the public, and spammers. Those above are secured so they can only be seen by the team.)

Fritz answers:
I will plan to join up with you guys.

Fritz answers:
Change of plans, I'm going up with Mark.


Michal says:
Hi, just to make sure - did you mean meeting at Cloud Cap Saddle campground? Thanks! (email hidden)!6m1!1e1


Mark (leader) says:
Anybody have any questions? Reply if you do. Just so everyone remembers, bring layers of clothes, be ready for all kinds of weather. Sun screen, lip balm sunblock, sun glasses, 2L of liquids, lunch and snacks to share with team leaders :) Ice axe, helmet, crampons, carabineers and all the other stuff. Be ready to walk up the mountain and enjoy the glacier. It should be a good day. Cheers. See you at Cloud Cap Campground


Fritz says:
Mark, can you clarify our meeting point? On the event page I see Cooper Spur Campground, Copper Spur Campground, Cloud Cap Campground, Cloud Cap Saddle Campground, and a big hairy link. Could be confusing...


Mark (leader) says:
Sorry for the confusion we will meet at the Cloud Cap saddle camp ground. You can get to the Tilly Jane and Cloud Cap camp ground on the same road. Whether you come from Hood River or Portland get onto Hwy 35 and take the Cooper Spur Road (0.3 miles south of mile post 74) Follow it 2.4 miles. It becomes Forest Service Road 3512, also called Cloud Cap road. Climb that road 9.5 miles to the Cloud Cap Saddle Campground. That is directly from the Forest Service website. Cloud Cap Saddle campground. I always knew it as Cloud Cap (no saddle) But to make it as clear as possible its Cloud Cap SADDLE campground. Hope that clears it up.

Peter answers:
Anyone know the condition of 3512? Is it passable in a car with relatively low clearance?

Fritz answers:
I haven't been up there in a few years, and it changes every year due to the winter's abuse, so this is just a guess, but... I recall the road being fairly well maintained, and not too terribly rough.


Fritz says:
Anybody not have carpoolies? I have two more spots in my car, leaving from Washington Square area at 6am. Call or text me (see number above) to join!


Fritz says:
TRAVEL NOTE: Hood to Coast relay race is occurring this weekend. Might be affecting the Hwy 26 route over Mt Hood. Recommending Hwy 84 Hood River route to Cloud Cap if possible.


Jessica says:
Jeff and I were planning on leaving at 6:15 this morning but I have not heard from him. It's looking like we won't be making it unfortunately. If I hear from him soon we might be able to meet you guys later. Is there an area where you might be on the glacier?


This forum is closed at this time.

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