Monday, July 09, 2018

DC Update: Objective hazards become palpable

Ice fall debris with Gibraltar rock in the distance. Photo: Tyler Jones 

This morning guides reported seeing debris from a large ice fall on the upper mountain.  The large ice block tumbled in the middle of the night when no parties were on the route. The event occurred at approximately 12,600 feet on the Ingraham Glacier, just above the top of Disappointment Cleaver. Ice blocks tumbled over the climbing route and continued down the glacier at least another 1,000 vertical feet; simply put, this would have been an unsurvivable event.  The route through this area will be more difficult (and slower) to travel across with the new debris and uneven footing.

Ice fall debris over the route above the top of Disappointment Cleaver.  Photo:Tyler Jones

Events like this are a good reminder of why it is important to be aware of the objective hazards on the route, and to minimize your exposure to them. Move quickly through zones that are underneath seracs (and rockfall), and keep your senses tuned for the sound of tumbling ice blocks. More seracs in this same area could fall in the future as the glacier continues to move downhill.  It is impossible to predict when this might happen. Any serac that is tilted downhill and disconnected on the uphill side could tumble at any time. Have a discussion with your team members about your strategies for moving though areas subject to ice fall and don't linger in these areas.

More ice could fall from the same area on the Ingraham Glacier
 above Disappointment Cleaver. Photo: Tyler Jones

The rest of the DC route remains unchanged.  We have entered peak climbing season in the Muir corridor, and the route will tend to be crowded on weekends.  Remember to stay courteous and friendly with other climbers you encounter on route, and keep the mountain clean!