General > Ice & Winter Climbing

How do you evaluate Seracs?


What are the questions you should ask yourself when you intend to travel under seracs?  I know there's none in the Whites.

Did I get up early enough?

Seriously, serac collapses, while they can happen anytime, are most likely with changes in temperature and warmer temps... when possible, plan your trip to be past them at the coldest part of the day, usually just before dawn.

If anyone has any magic insight I'd be interested--I'm supposed to be going through the Valley of Death in May. My impression is that the main question to ask yourself is, do I really give a sh!t if it does come down. Doug Scott always said that he wrote himself off as dead before he started up a mountain. Funny that he and Bonnington were about the only ones in that entire generation of amazing Brit climbers that came back alive.

I don't have any magical insights. just be honest with yourself about the risk you're taking. the best practices are to get super fit, pack light, get a pre-dawn start, and move fast. beyond that, perhaps check recent weather patterns for any rapid changes, which might indicate instability. but don't kid yourself. everything's unstable even under the best conditions. it's kind of like avalanche conditions--more knowledge about the snowpack doesn't necessarily make you safer. discretion, timing, and speed make you safer.


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