Glaciers, Crevasses, Seracs and a Big Fat Bergschrund

glaciersSome of my most memorable hiking, climbing, and skiing memories come from the times I’ve either been on or near glaciers. Glaciers aren’t inherently dangerous…but they’re in a continuous state of flux as the ice that forms them moves across the land beneath. So…glacier travel can pose a number of different challenges from hiking in snow-covered terrain. I just posted an article on the About.com Survival Skills site titled “Survive Glacier Hiking Hazards,” in which I discuss specific glacier terrain challenges including crevasses, seracs, and bergschrunds.

I’ve encountered glaciated terrain in the Alps, in New Zealand, and in Antarctica. Here are a few photos that capture the terrain characteristics you’ll likely encounter if you’re hiking, skiing, or climbing in a glaciated area.

First…crevasses:

crevasses

The above crevasses are on the glacier surrounding Mount Aspiring in New Zealand, which I climbed with two friends a few years ago. On our ascent, I took photos of another nearby peak and alpine route called The Rolling Pin, which is also crevassed:

crevasses 2

Seracs, or ice cliffs…these seracs are on the Glacier d’Argentiere near Chamonix, France. My friend Andy and I were climbing nearby when I took this photo.

seracs

Below, Andy is organizing his gear in one of our bivouacs above the Glacier du Tour, also near Chamomix, France. I love the puzzle of seracs behind him in this photo…we were forced to bivouac that night because it took us too long on our supposed short cut through the seracs, and we missed the last lift down that eve.

seracs 2

And…my favorite photo of the big fat summer bergschrund near the top of the Grand Montets lift, also near Chamoinx, France:

bergschrund

The bergschrund above sent me, my sister, and her two friends back down to the valley for beers. We had planned on going for a cruisy glacier hike that day, but the width of this bergschrund required more skill and gear than what we had with us. Luckily, we were in the Alps, and cold drinks were only minutes away…

Want to know more about crevasses, seracs, and bergschrunds?
Read my article on the About.com Survival Skills site:
“Survive Glacier Hiking Hazards”
If you like to hike surrounded by the beauty of snow and ice, you’re not alone. Glacier hiking is a popular activity that can put people in touch with an awe-inspiring landscape. However, hiking on or near a glacier poses a few dangers different from hiking in a snow- or ice-covered landscape that is not glaciated…click here to continue reading

Photos © Traci J. Macnamara.

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