Rock Crevasses

Snow-covered rock crevasses are a difficult-to-discern hazard that you may encounter during snow travel. You will often encounter these hazards in snow-covered rock gardens or over/through areas of rocky outcrops. Careful research of the terrain before your trip in snow-free conditions may help you to identify and avoid these areas. Google Maps may be a good tool to see where these rock gardens and outcrops exist on your proposed route. Using your poles to probe as you travel may also help.

Be prepared to self-rescue and partner rescue with the tools you carry and have knowledge of extraction techniques. When dealing with hazards like these, your best bet is to retreat/backtrack to the solid terrain that you already safely crossed and reassess your options. The following 3-photo series from John Platt shows experienced climbers avoiding a cornice. However, they also soon discovered that they were crossing an area with snow-covered rock crevasses large enough to fall into.


Climbing over a snow-covered rocky outcrop. Staying well away from the cornice edge? John Platt Photo

Fall into a rock crevasse.

Falling into a rock crevasse at the root of the cornice. Note that this is after climbing up a few feet. John Platt Photo

Looking back where the fall into the rock crevasse occurred. John Platt photo

Looking back where the fall into the rock crevasse occurred. Notice how far from the cornice edge the fall occurred. John Platt Photo