Crevasse Rescue

Guide Training 2017

This May and June I taught two guide training courses here in Alaska. The first was for Anchorage-based Salmon Berry Tours on the Matanuska Glacier and more recently Adventure Sixty North out of Seward on Exit Glacier. If your organization needs guide training, get in touch and I would love to work with your program too. 

Myself on the right and the Salmon Berry Tours glacier hiking guides on the Matanuska Glacier. Good weather and good company made for a great two days. 

Building V-threads to make an anchor on the ice. V-threads are crucial to use in your anchor on glaciers in the summer, it's amazing how fast ice screws will melt out. 

Doing a 1:1 team haul. I'm a big fan of using the simplest and most basic rescue strategies whenever possible. Why use something more complex if you don't need to?


Some of the "A60" guides on Exit Glacier.

Practicing hauling systems with an incredible view out the office window. 

Here a complex 5:1 is a great step towards greater mechanical advantage if a 3:1 isn't enough, just one piece of cord and two carabiners is all you need. 

On the last day I had the guides run through scenarios including making real satellite phone calls to test their emergency response plan. 

Here the rescuer is ascending the line back up out of the crevasse after rappelling to set the patient into the system. Once on top the ropes are converted into a haul system. This practice round was completed in under half an hour which is pretty good considering all the steps that go into it. 

Hauling a patient up on a 3:1 pulley system. The patient is also tied into a separate line on to a separate anchor just in case something happens to the main orange line, always a good idea during practice. 

In this scenario the patient was "unconscious" so a rescuer had to stay with the patient to assist her up as others hauled. Always good to practice the worst possible situations, it will be that much easier to complete if it ever happens for real. 

Great crew to work with! Thanks Adventure 60, see you next year.  

Kodiak. Crevasse Rescue. The Alaska Range!

Spring work this year for Remarkable Adventures consisted of a trip to Kodiak Island and a one day custom Crevasse Rescue Course. After that it was into the Alaska Range to teach a course for the Alaska Mountaineering School.

Kodiak Alaska

In May I went for a quick weekend trip to Kodiak to work with the KISAR team (Kodiak Island Search and Rescue). Here we got a heli bump right up to the new cabin KISAR built for their training missions.

Kodiak Alaska, backcountry skiing

This picture does not show how strong the winds were. Here we circled up real quick, shouting over the wind to make a group decision on what our plan was, where and how we were going to get there. Higher up the wind flapping on my jacket hood was so loud I wished I had ear plugs in. A funny thing about Kodiak is, to the locals, this was a really nice day to be out in the mountains. The weather is notoriously gnarly!

Kodiak Alaska, ski to sea

It's always a good time working with my friend and work partner Joe Stock of Stock Alpine, LLC. Joe and I keep in contact to discuss our businesses and learn from each other. As the only certified guides living and working in the Anchorage and Girdwood area we exclusively share our guest inquiries if we are already booked up. For larger groups we always hope to be able to work them together. 

Kodiak Alaska, skiing

Good times hiking through the woods with ski boots and skis on your pack. It is always (most times) worth a little mud and bushwhacking to end a good skiing trip.  photo by - Steve Weilebski.

Remarkable Adventures, rope ascention

Right after Kodiak I was back home to teach a one day crevasse rescue course to a local Girdwood group - father, son and their friend. It's always great to work with Alaskans. We started our day learning and practicing our rope ascension, a vital skill to know how to get yourself out of a crevasse. Tree limbs work great to sling a rope over and learn your ascension system.

Remarkable Adventures, crevasse rescue course

We chose Tincan in Turnagain Pass as our location for the day to be able to easily access the late May snow in order to maximize learning and minimize the time it would have taken to reach a glacier. We found a perfect safe spot to work on crevasse rescue skills. 

Remarkable Adventures, crevasse rescue course

Hauling with a basic 3:1 "Z-pully" system. We later went over having the ability to be able to rappel to your victim, help them, ascend out and then haul them up with a dropped loop 2:1 or 6:1. This is what every glacier travel partner should be able to quickly and competently do. It was a really nice spring day on the snow!

My final spring work was teaching a Denali Prep course for the Alaska Mountaineering School. These three photos are from our camp at the Kahiltna Base Camp. Stunning views of the big three peaks of the Alaska Range: Mt Hunter, Mt Foraker and Denali. We had two really nice days of weather to start the course and were able to cover the necessary skills to be able to move and progress through the rest of the week...

Whiteout on a glacier

...Then we woke at 3am to go for a peak ascent of Radio Control Tower. We woke to full-on whiteout conditions and it stayed like that for 5 days. This is an odd photo to post but that was our view for 5 days, our neighbors tent is not far away in this photo.

You just can't go out safely wandering around on a glacier in these conditions with hundreds of crevasses around you. I've had the motto of using whiteout navigation skills only to get you back home to safety, not to head out from safety, I will continue to try and live by this motto. Instead of our climbing ambitions we went over classes, re-practiced our crevasse rescue and worked a lot on patience waiting for the weather to change. Patience can be a really important skill to have for trips to Alaska. Most of the time the weather and conditions are good but sometimes you just have to sit there. 

Kahiltna Base Camp, Alaska Range

The Alaska Range is a special place. The grandeur of the mountains and glaciers cannot be explained, it must be witnessed in person. This trip logs my 30th expedition into the Alaska Range, it never gets old and I look forward to more. I also look forward to more return visits into the Wrangell-St. Elias, the inner Chugach, the Tordrillo Mountains and the Neacola's among the lifetimes of other places I've never been to in this great land of Alaska.