When getting into steeper terrain, cornices kind of start to become a part of the equation They are amazingly beautiful pieces of snow shaped by the wind but they can be extremely tricky and dangerous

So let's start with a few facts Cornices are formed on sharp ridges and then formed with like average winds, which is gonna take the snow and put it up on the ridge and when they fall they do big damage One thing to bear in mind is that the shape of a ridge will affect the size of the cornice It's really important to take a huge margin of safety with cornices and not play with it When they break, they break so suddenly that there is absolutely nothing you can do

It's really hard to tell where there is a cornice and where you're actually on the actual ridge, with a good ground So it's pretty easy to just walk on a cornice fall through and go all the way down the mountains and depending on what's below it could be fatal Quite often below a cornice there will be a big wind slab waiting for you as well Cornice's when they get formed, they can create a bit of a crack, some kind of a crevasse behind the cornice That crevasse is usually covered by just a little bit of snow, so just a tiny snow bridge, and it's quite frequent that people fall into them

They seem gigantic and it always seems that your little weight might not really affect much of the stability of the cornice, but it can So when there is a big temperature rise, it will trigger a lot of cornices and you need to take that into consideration The biggest cornice break I ever witnessed was in Alaska on this glacier when basically all the cornice line of the mountain fell down and broke all the spine walls, all the way down so it ripped the whole face If you have to be under the cornice, try to be as quick as possible and as much as you can try to hike or tour in protected areas Approaching from behind you can't really see where the cornice is but here I've got good indication with the rocks, so I know I can move all the way till the rocks that's always the way to go and if you can't you need to put the rope

Like, here I suspect there would be rocks but I can't tell but I know that in the line of these rocks for sure there will be so I might take a bit of a wide march and here I am ah it's a tiny cornice If you're not sure, if you can't see any of the natural ground the good technique is to probe and if none of these techniques are possible there's always the techniques of putting a snow anchor into the snow getting roped up and go and check the cornice that way if it breaks you won't fall with it you will be hanging with a rope Cornices are to be taken super seriously with a big margin of safety There are a ton of accidents that happen with cornices and that could be easily avoidable So next time your on a ridge, think about it, keep that in mind, be safe and enjoy the ride

Source: Youtube

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