Crossing a bergschrund on a snow slope
While traveling an easy section, an occasional technically difficult part, like crossing a bergschrund, is often complicated to protect.
- Carefully read the Instructions for Use used in this technical advice before consulting the advice itself. You must have already read and understood the information in the Instructions for Use to be able to understand this supplementary information.
- Mastering these techniques requires specific training. Work with a professional to confirm your ability to perform these techniques safely and independently before attempting them unsupervised.
- We provide examples of techniques related to your activity. There may be others that we do not describe here.
The specifics of the area may offer several options:
- crossing and taking the risk of no protection
- crossing with partial protection when possible
- turning back or finding another way
The leader takes the most risk, as generally there is no chance of placing intermediate protection.
Belaying the leader
If the greatest risk is falling into the bergschrund, the counter-weight of the second, farther back, may be enough.
If the risk is falling down the slope, a belay point must protect the party.
The second stays back, away from the line of a fall.
The leader's rope does not go through the belay point, as it would be torn out in case of a fall.
The second effects a dynamic belay while anchored into the deadman.
Warning: the leader will fall below their belayer without a directional anchor. VERSO and REVERSO cannot be used in this case. The second can belay from their harness with a Munter hitch or using a body belay.
Belaying the second
The leader can reach an existing anchor point or create a temporary one in the slope.
The second is belayed with a Munter hitch or a REVERSO on the anchor.
Caution: belaying from the harness with a directional point on the anchor doubles the load on the deadman because of the pulley effect.
Examples of temporary anchors
Ice axe used as a deadman
Sling around a rock horn
Two triangulated ice screws
Caution: when planted vertically, the ice axe may help support one person, but is not a belay point and carries a high risk of coming out.