AVALANCHE!!!

3:34 p.m. on April 30, 2012 (EDT)
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I saw several of these from base camp, but I bet this ROCKED to watch! Sorry for the sherpa getting blown into a crevace...rescued, thank Goodness.

 

Alan Arnette has some nice covereage and commentary here.

4:19 p.m. on April 30, 2012 (EDT)
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that would send more than chills down my spine

5:46 p.m. on April 30, 2012 (EDT)
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Conrad Ankor was in this thing. Not a good place to be!

6:39 p.m. on April 30, 2012 (EDT)
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I couldn't open your link, but I'm on an I pod so that might be part of it.

There is an excellent story in this 38th issue of Alpinist by Conrad Anker about climbing the Sharks Tooth on Meru. It's also part of a two issue series on K2 you might enjoy.

6:22 a.m. on May 1, 2012 (EDT)
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Avalanches are cool on video, or in person when you know you are safe, but anywhere near their path they elicit dread similar to being trapped with the farmer’s daughter in her room while you stare down pa’s double barrel shotgun…

I have survived the dubious experience of forced travel in bad weather in the Sierras where we could hear avalanches relatively nearby, but could not see where they were due to poor visibility.  Scares you similar to the bogyman under a five year old’s bed.

I was in an expedition wreaked by an avalanche before it left base camp.  It was my first trip to Denali in the early 1980s.  We were to venture up the West Rib Route, a variation of the West Buttress “Tourist” Route.  We had just finished establishing base camp a few miles up the glacier from where the planes typically drop their clients for this venue.  There were two other groups sharing the camp.  We were still setting up camp late in the day when a sonic report announced a large serrac had come loose and was rampaging down the very steep headwall across the valley on the other side of the glacier.  The walls were several thousand feet high so it took the slide several long moments to descend to the glacier.  As it progressed it became apparent the slide was growing big enough to make it all the way down.  Awe transformed to concern, then to panic as it seemed we may be in the path of this thing.  Fleeing an avalanche while on a glacier is very disconcerting.  Glaciers are full of deep, dangerous cracks (crevasses) covered by snow, that hapless trekkers can fall into, often causing injury or death.  Therefore one of the first things done when a climbing group stops for camp is surveying and marking a safe area where one can move about without being roped to someone else for safety.  So as I started sprinting to avoid getting run over, I wondered which threat was bigger, the slide overrunning me or the crevasses waiting in ambush.  Felt fear similar to driving too fast on black ice into a sharp turn on the edge of a huge drop off.  As it ends up everybody was safe, and the slide ran out well short of camp.  But the wind blast hit the camp making a mess of everything and destroying several tents, effectively ending our climb before it ever started.

The most scary experience I had, regarding snow and ice avalanches, was in Peru.  Severe weather had pinned us down at high elevation.  Eventually our food supplies dwindled and the cold forced us to retreat in the midst of the bad weather.  We were weak; three climbers had frostbite toes.  The route back had limited options with several very exposed pitches.  Sloughs of snow swept through us on the march, all you could do was hope you weren’t hit by hard debris and hope your rope and anchors held.  The fear was similar to that experienced when falling off your bicycle at speed in busy traffic.  This particular trip ended my desire for this level of mountaineering, in part due to the experience of being stuck in frozen bowling alleys all day.

Ed

9:49 a.m. on May 1, 2012 (EDT)
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I just watched a video of a an icefall an ensuing avalanche above Base Camp. Terrifyingly awesome to watch, and even more so in person I am sure. 

October 1, 2014
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