Danger, Crevasse!

Spring signals the start of the high-mountain skiing season and an increase in accidents involving crevasses.

A missing ski mountaineer has been found dead at the bottom of a crevasse on the Glacier du Rognon, a variant of the of the popular Vallée Blanche route. The skier was reported missing on Saturday night by his friend, who’d lost site of him during their tour.

The skier, aged 30, fell 20 meters head first into the crevasse. He was found by rescue workers on Sunday morning.

Kairn.com reports that a 26 year old Czech skier has been rescued after spending an uncomfortable 30 hours in a crevasse on the Glacier de la Girose in the la Grave area.  The skier fell into the crevasse on Friday. Rescue workers had to use cutting gear to get to the skier who is now recovering from hypothermia in Briançon hospital.

Crevasses form in glaciers when the giant ice flows pass over changes in the underlying terrain. Although their approximate locations can be mapped the movement of the ice means their exact locations can vary from season to season. A real danger in winter and the start of the season when snowfalls in the high mountains are lower they can also pose dangers as warming spring weather weakens snow bridges. Last year’s record summer temperatures meant that glaciers started the ski season with poor snow cover.

Posted by davidof on Monday, 29 March, 2004 at 11:23 AM

Isn’t Glacier du Rognon the back of Grand Montet before you get onto the Argentiere Glacier? If it was the Vallee Blanche the route would be Gros Rognan which a slight variant of the punter route.

Posted by  on  Wednesday, 31 March, 2004  at 05:07 PM

Its confusing but the Glacier du Rognon is between the Gros and Petit Rognon on the Valley Blanche and is below the col du Rognon whereas the Glacier des Rognons is behind Grands Montets as you say. Complicated huh?

Posted by davidof on  Wednesday, 31 March, 2004  at 11:33 PM

I can understand but it is too hard to believe and too hard to write.  I decided to go Valley Blanche on Sunday.  My ma dropped me of at the lift.  I had not skiied for 15 years and walked a lot that day.  No food and water, no harness etc.  I had been up in the summer and could not resist.  I saw a long haired guy and he inspired me; later I saw him with broken arm.  I also asked some Brits should I go and they said O.K. without a guide.  I had tried to get a guide.  LOUD THUNDERING VOICE:IF YOU GO TAKE A GUIDE.

My ski boots are from ebay and I tried to get heated - so mine were 3 sizes to large.  I had rented SUGAR DADDY skis.  Then other skiers distracted me somehow as I was out of practise.  So first I cross, then I start going downhill inspired by shouts of a skier to go with the fall-line.  Having too much weight I toppled over backwords unable to drive the 15 pound ski around the corner and ripping my knee ( tumbling down the arete was scary enough ).  I crack it some more a second time downhill.  Not up on the Arete again as I wrongly thought.  So I enjoyed spending 2.5 h going down without swinging as my right leg was out of action.  Sugar Daddy “surf”, 30 meter giant curves until I met the icefall.  An icy slippery mogul piste goes down over 200 meters altitude it seems.

I am tired, eat snow, keep right.  Suddenly there is only one track. Then a wall and a void, 20 meters into the nothing.  Here I call my ma tell her to inform mountain safety.  One hour later a heli picks me up.  I had tried to go back up the hill 100 meters then to cross right and then pass the moguls to a hut.  But crawling 3 yards resting some minutes does not get you far and it was all I could do.  Two ski instructers had no stopped for an hour looking at me making Y s.  I could only carry skis or backpack not both, every meter two trips.  The heli landed below and the cop asked me to stay put on the ground then pulled close and pulled me in.  Then backpack and skies.  We left a glove.  He said I would have died continuing.  At the ground at the hotel I collapsed in pain spasms because of the knee, shivering, under the shower I saw I was green.

Maybe the tracks led to an edge and there someone turned back? or fell or crossed on over a 70 degree 2 meter frozenice band over 10 meters with a bottemless fall at the right?  Not my case.  I will never do this thing again but anyone who does could maybe build a rope party with ice screws and a lot of good folks spanning lines to pass that one bad part carefully.


Bernhard Franz

Posted by  on  Thursday, 01 April, 2004  at 10:02 PM

That is what the British would call an epic.  Glad you are okay and hope the knee gets better quickly.

I removed your email address to stop you getting junk email.  I would suggest not including email addresses in posts.

Posted by davidof on  Friday, 02 April, 2004  at 12:49 PM

Bernhard, glad everything turned out to be fine in the end. How scary. You could make a book/film out of that, a bit like Jo Simpson’s Touching the Void which you may have already read or seen at the cinema. If you haven’t yet seen the film, I would definitely advise you to go and see it. 

Posted by  on  Friday, 02 April, 2004  at 01:06 PM
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