Large Orizaba Crevasse--Normal Route (Jamapa Glacier)

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jklloyd81

 
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Large Orizaba Crevasse--Normal Route (Jamapa Glacier)

by jklloyd81 » Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:29 pm

I am writing to inform the community about a large crevasse on Pico de Orizaba. The Internet says that the crevasses are very small: "A few fingers wide" "couldn't fit a chihuahua into it" "0.5 to 1 foot" etc. I took this advice to heart and started up Orizaba solo on February 8, 2016. At 18100 feet, I broke through apparently solid surface and fell 8 meters to the floor of a great crevasse. The crevasse is 3 meters wide and at least 100 meters long. I spent the night in the crevasse waiting for help, and was rescued the next day. Climbers be advised: the mountain is changing. There is at least one enormous crevasse on the Normal Route. For obvious reasons I invite climbers to visit Orizaba only as part of a roped team.
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Re: Large Orizaba Crevasse--Normal Route (Jamapa Glacier)

by rocky29oct » Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:34 pm

Thanks for the heads up. Planning to go there end of this month...

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Re: Large Orizaba Crevasse--Normal Route (Jamapa Glacier)

by Simon Whimsy » Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:41 pm

I'm glad you made it out alright and appreciate the info you provided here. I would not have assumed this based on what I've heard in the past. Are crevasses like the one seen in the photograph above normal on this route?

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Re: Large Orizaba Crevasse--Normal Route (Jamapa Glacier)

by rocky29oct » Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:48 pm

yah, I am glad you made it out alright..... were you roped up?

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Re: Large Orizaba Crevasse--Normal Route (Jamapa Glacier)

by jklloyd81 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:46 am

No, I wasn't roped up. Crevasses of this magnitude have not historically been a problem on the normal route for several decades at least, based on what I've seen on the Internet. A news article on my fall indicated that the area of the mountain is known as "death cave" so historically there is a precedent for a large crevasse on this part of the mountain.

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Re: Large Orizaba Crevasse--Normal Route (Jamapa Glacier)

by MountainHikerCO » Wed Feb 17, 2016 4:14 pm

In 1993 when I climbed Orizaba the first time I stepped across a bergschrund. I poked at the edges with my axe before making a wide step across. Back then the normal route went straight to the lowest part of the crater. When I returned to Orizaba in 2006 the normal route went to the right of where that bergschrund was. It was steeper near the top, and gained the crater closer to the summit. So although Orizaba has a reputation for not having Rainier like crevasses, having a bergschrund is not new. With the changing glacier conditions, perhaps this bergschrund moves around and changes size and shape.

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Re: Large Orizaba Crevasse--Normal Route (Jamapa Glacier)

by mts4602 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 4:31 pm

How did you alert rescuers? Beacon?

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Re: Large Orizaba Crevasse--Normal Route (Jamapa Glacier)

by MoapaPk » Wed Feb 17, 2016 4:38 pm

Word on the street: that is the bergschrund.

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Re: Large Orizaba Crevasse--Normal Route (Jamapa Glacier)

by jklloyd81 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:46 pm

Alerted rescuers by cell phone. Based on the rock walls I saw on one side of the crevasse, I agree that it is probably the bergschrund. Thanks for the information on the bergschrund in 1993. Whatever the history of the mountain, it is important to note that there are significant crevasse risks for climbers attempting the peak this season. The current beta doesn't seem to provide that warning.

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Re: Large Orizaba Crevasse--Normal Route (Jamapa Glacier)

by antivoyage » Sun Feb 28, 2016 9:55 pm

Josh Lewis wrote:I'm glad you made it out alright and appreciate the info you provided here. I would not have assumed this based on what I've heard in the past. Are crevasses like the one seen in the photograph above normal on this route?


First off, Jacob, So glad you made it out! It sounds like you did most of your beta gathering on the web (so did I), but I actually wrote a guidebook suggesting based on my own experience and copious reading that you generally won't see more than cracks. I'm definitely going to update my recommendation.

Josh: crevasses are uncommon, but this is something people will need to watch out for in the future! Three things that come to mind are a report earlier this fall that highlighted heavy erosion of the glacier due to unseasonably heavy rains and warm temperatures high on the glacier (link below in Spanish, use google translate if you need)

http://municipiospuebla.com.mx/nota/201 ... -a%C3%B1os

The second thing is having culled as many accident reports as I could find and analyzing causes, one common theme is climbing when there are periods of warmer weather high on the peak. Jacob: it would be extremely helpful if you can describe the temperatures. I just looked at the record from Mexico's NOAA (The Servicio Meterologico Nacional or SMN) and they show an unseasonably warm day: 8 C when the average before and after were 2-3 C on February 8th, 2016.

http://smn.cna.gob.mx/emas/txt/VR31_24H.TXT

Since that reading was taken at 2,722 m altitude, and the rescue happened at 5,517 m we could estimate the temperature at -6 C which is still frozen, but add in some sunshine and that might have softened things up enough to cause the cave in (▲ altitude 2,795 * -5.5 C per 1,000 m = -14.85).

The third and final thing that this calls to mind was an unusual avalanche that happened in the 1992 and is the only accident report on the Pico de Orizaba in the AAC's Accidents journal. This party was a little bit lower down.

http://publications.americanalpineclub. ... de-Orizaba

Jacob, I take anything written in the Mexican press about Citlaltépetl with a grain of salt, but can you confirm or deny the published claims that the rescue occurred at 4,800 m (15,750 ft) from a known formation referred to as "La Cueva del Muerto"?

http://www.excelsior.com.mx/nacional/2016/02/09/1073942

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Re: Large Orizaba Crevasse--Normal Route (Jamapa Glacier)

by jklloyd81 » Sun Mar 06, 2016 1:11 am

No, I emphatically deny the report given by the Mexican press with regard to elevation and other details. There was deliberate manipulation of the story in order to present the government in the most favorable light possible. The crevasse was at 18100 ft. My GPS reading fluctuated, but is presumably accurate +/- 100. The man primarily responsible for my rescue was a guide who was leading two clients. He yelled into the crevasse that he would be back for me in 15 minutes, once he had taken his group to the crater. I relate that only to show that this crevasse is very, very close to the crater.

I cannot speak to accurate temperature, but it was warm enough at mid day for water drops to fall on me from where the sun was striking the rim of the crevasse. There was no melting in the crevasse at any time and I can't give a temperature with certainty-- only that the air temperature seemed below freezing. The breaking of the snowbridge occurred at about 8 AM and there was no sun on the slope at that time. Warm temperatures/solar radiation obviously weakened the snow covering the crevasse over time, but I think it is very unlikely that they played a role in conditions during the break.

Josh: I would agree that small cracks are the most common surface feature of the glacier, but there is definitely at least one huge crevasse that must be considered. I met several solo climbers during my time on Pico, all of them were convinced by the beta that the mountain didn't have crevasses of this magnitude. Time to fix the beta: Travel on a rope team and be prepared for crevasse rescue. Any lesser recommendation would be foolhardy.

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Re: Large Orizaba Crevasse--Normal Route (Jamapa Glacier)

by antivoyage » Thu Mar 10, 2016 8:27 pm

Trust me, I believe you over the Mexican media any day--that and the photo says it all. Journalistic freedom is a true low point in a otherwise fantastic country. I believe they rank with Saudi Arabia for freedom of the press. Between this and the lack of a strong judiciary, you can see why longstanding corruption persists.

Thank you so much for putting this out there and confirming the details.

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Re: Large Orizaba Crevasse--Normal Route (Jamapa Glacier)

by antivoyage » Tue Mar 15, 2016 7:55 am

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I've just uploaded a map of the location of the crevasse. One take away I see is that the crevasse is predictably in the middle of a hollow. A crevasse of this size absolutely indicates that you ought to use rope. From my research of trip reports on sites like this, only about 20% rope up. If you choose to risk it, maybe stick to the ridges.

The location is around to the west where the guides often chop steps. I've summited both around to the west along the route Jake took and up the ridge indicated in red. The ridge will be a shallower friction zone and therefore be less likely to have crevasses, but taking into consideration conditions year to year, it's definitely looking like rope is the way to go.

Jake, I follow what you're saying with the temperatures, but I have seen an influence of temperature spikes on accidents. When I catch some free time, I'm going to post a graph of the weather in the days surrounding the cave in. My hunch could end up appearing coincidental, but maybe we can learn something by testing theories.

Lastly, if you're looking out for maps you can order stateside, I just started publishing a set in November. With shipping and handling tacked on from Amazon it's roughly what a set of maps would cost at your local REI and I use the verso for a copy of the route guide contained in the companion ebook. I'd appreciate any feedback! http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018J8SHD6/


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