Crevasse Rescue In the Age of Glacial Recession
Each year, I find myself saying nearly the same thing, "I can't believe how much this place has changed." The unfortunate reality is that each time I say it, it's in response to the not-so-gradual recession of our glaciers and snow fields. Early season climbs now look more like mid to late season climbs, and late season climbing carries far more objective hazards than it ever has before. I don't mean to be the doom specialist here, but I do feel it's worth considering how these changes will ultimately affect our ability to adventure. One area I've begun reevaluating is my crevasse rescue kit.
I recognize there is inherently no perfect crevasse rescue kit in the first place, and we all have different opinions on prusiks vs tiblocs, two pickets vs a picket and two screws, etc... The truth, more often than not, is that your kit should be situational, but I am a believer in habits when safety is concerned. I like to have a core crevasse rescue kit I can grab blind folded and feel confident in. Our changing environment, though, has made me start to rethink certain aspects of the kit. I find myself grabbing an extra screw more often now that old ice is exposed much more of the season. Additionally, and especially in the earlier season, I find a single picket is often dubious when the snow is melting so rapidly (and again, this depends on size of team, type of route, etc...).
I bring this all up to ask the following questions:
1) What goes into your crevasse rescue kit every single time?
2) Has your kit evolved recently, and if so, how?
3) Has the climate influenced your choice in crevasse rescue gear?
I don't plan to stop my alpine adventures anytime soon, but as someone that stays up at night pondering objective hazards, I feel it's worth while to reconsider our core practices, taking into account our evolving environment. Let me know what you think!