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One Big Posthole

Have an interesting or epic climbing story? Post it here.
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Re: One Big Posthole

Postby bckcntryskr » Wed May 04, 2011 2:04 pm

Nice reminder for the group. Thanks for sharing.
Did I mention that "I hate postholing"

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Re: One Big Posthole

Postby DaveLanders » Wed May 04, 2011 2:20 pm

One other comment about avoiding cornices: You might be standing on a rock, and see a rock some distance away,
with snow in between. Walking in a straight line towards the distant rock may not be safe. Often glacier carved
ridges will have a significant curve to them that you may not be able to see when the edge is covered by snow.

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Re: One Big Posthole

Postby rickinco123 » Wed May 04, 2011 2:26 pm

Thanks for posting this. What a wake up call! I will be much more cautious around cornices. To add to the post above, I have noticed that rocks warmed up from the sun can create very deep wells around them which sometimes get hidden. I have torn pants and lost skin learning that lesson several times over the years. Thanks also to the rest of you for the links to the other accidents, as someone who considers themselves relatively experienced with snow travel this is an informative thread.

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Glad you're ok Brad

Postby spong0949 » Wed May 04, 2011 3:02 pm

from now on, friends don't let friends fall into air pockets. :wink:

Thanks for posting the pics. Now that I look at it, the hole is quite a ways from where the bear rock is on the right. I can see now that you were out on the cornice (just not near the edge). Looks like it would have been very easy to keep walking thinking you were still on the ridge. We'll have to watch that more closely next time.

Looks so much more scary on the computer!
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Re: One Big Posthole

Postby TK » Wed May 04, 2011 4:30 pm

Knowing that spot well, I'd count my blessings. Climbers have been having trouble with that spot year-round for many years.

I did a solo of Torries from Loveland Pass in July 2008. Some time between my ascent and my return over Grizzly, a section of cornice about 100 yards wide broke off between Grizzly and point 12,936. It was a wake-up call that I hadn't seen anyone other than the people on the Torries summit all day, and a stadium-sized chunk of ice crashed down into the valley without me hearing it or knowing it until I saw the aftermath. According to Roach's 14ers book, "In early June, there can be some dangerous cornices along this ridge." From the story Jim mentioned, I think there's more to that claim than he lets on in his guide. It looks like this is about where you were standing in your photographs.

A cornice does not always snap off right at the ridge crest. The cornice may break off on the opposite side of the ridge crest and pull down quite a lot of snow with it that an unknowing hiker may have thought was safe. From the looks of that picture, you stepped right into the fracture line, and everything to the East of you was ready to break off. The bottom line is to stay waaaaaaaaaaaay back from these beasts. Stay on solid ground if you can, and be really happy that you're safe this time.
"If you're not sure where you are, but you haven't taken the time to stop and look at the map, you're not lost, just lazy." -Darran Wells

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Re: One Big Posthole

Postby S-Pett » Wed May 04, 2011 9:35 pm

Thanks for posting this. Glad you're okay. I was up there on Sunday and turned around not too far from this area because of the unbelievable wind and blowing snow. I'm planning on going back on Saturday...so thank you for the warning.
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Re: One Big Posthole

Postby Moboy56 » Thu May 05, 2011 8:16 am

Thanks for posting the pic, i climbed grizzly solo last january. i did stay on the rocks but a snow squall blew in on me and visibility dropped. i was well prepared but it was a little spooky for a while. it would have been easy to walk out onto one of those, even with map and compass, GPS. Glad you're o.k. i would have crapped down both legs. :shock:
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Re: One Big Posthole

Postby Mark A Steiner » Thu May 05, 2011 9:39 am

You can run into a similar situation betwen point 12,915 and Sniktau. Be careful out there.
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Re: One Big Posthole

Postby sunny1 » Thu May 05, 2011 3:58 pm

Thanks for posting this, mtn ninja. Appreciate the reminder.
I'm glad you are ok and this didn't turn into something waaaaaaaaaaay more serious.
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Re: One Big Posthole

Postby pw » Thu May 05, 2011 9:20 pm

Mountain_Ninja wrote:Hiking Grizzly Peak D yesterday, I didn't expect to actually FALL IN to the mountain:


Anyone else have an experience like this, or have any further lessons to share?


Something similar but not nearly so serious happened to me on the same traverse in March, judging from your picture, it could have been within a 100 yards of that spot. I was walking on snow that was frozen, and if I'd even thought about it I would have said it was 1 foot deep, next step I am in a hole and the snow is up to the top of my shoulders (I'm 6'1"), I crawled out easily enough, looked back in, that's when I got a little freaked out, since I couldn't really see anything that looked like a bottom, must have just been firmer snow that stopped me from going in even deeper. After I got out I looked around and tried to figure out how I had let that happen, certainly anyone who hikes that stretch is aware that there is a cornice on that ridge and you need to stay back a little bit. I think I just unconsciously looked at the general contour of the exposed ground to the west and figured it was probably a symmetrically rounded slope and even though I was walking on snow, I felt I was fairly near the top of the slope, that is, just a foot or so of snow under me. I guess the lesson is be aware of your surroundings when near a cornice and stay further away than you think you need to (hmm, maybe that should be more emphatic - stay way the hell back from the edge).

I was a little freaked out by my experience and nothing really happened, I can sort of imagine how you must have felt....

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Re: One Big Posthole

Postby TK » Thu May 05, 2011 10:11 pm

This thread really raises my neck hairs.

Bill, on this thread alone I see stories from four different forum members unexpectedly encountering this cornice and finding themselves in sketchball avy terrain (myself included, although I apparently missed the avy on my trip by a couple hours). It might be a good idea to add some statements to the route description about these cornices and add in one of Mtn. Ninja's photos as a warning. I'm jumping to conclusions assuming he wouldn't mind. Seems to be a place where many hikers narrowly avoid disaster and don't realize it.
"If you're not sure where you are, but you haven't taken the time to stop and look at the map, you're not lost, just lazy." -Darran Wells

Re: One Big Posthole

Postby Mountain Ninja » Thu May 05, 2011 10:55 pm

TK wrote:It might be a good idea to add some statements to the route description about these cornices and add in one of Mtn. Ninja's photos as a warning. I'm jumping to conclusions assuming he wouldn't mind. Seems to be a place where many hikers narrowly avoid disaster and don't realize it.


Any of you guys can use these pictures, especially to prevent future repeats of this mistake. I totally agree that there should be bigger warnings about this area in snowy months. Great idea.

Looking at my photos again & again, and remembering back, I believe I was watching the snow-filled trail on my way back from Grizzly, and it kinda seems to lead onto that cornice, so I must have mentally drawn the rest of the trail being where I was walking, and just kept trudging along.

pw wrote:I think I just unconsciously looked at the general contour of the exposed ground to the west and figured it was probably a symmetrically rounded slope and even though I was walking on snow, I felt I was fairly near the top of the slope, that is, just a foot or so of snow under me.


YES this is exactly what I thought too, spot on. It does seem logical, but clearly WASN'T the case. I'm learning to NEVER ASSUME!

Stunningly beautiful, but deceptive to the core.

The snow, I mean; not your girlfriend.
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