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Norman Vaughan on: The Danger of Crevasses
Norman Vaughan Q: Did you have a sense of crevasses?

NV: That's the most dangerous thing we faced in the Antarctica besides getting lost but we had a constant fear of dropping through a bridge into a crevasse. Because if you do that, it's your death. So in some cases we were roped up. But we had a false sense of security because we weren't trained for that at first. And we just tied ropes around our waist and thought we were secure but we wouldn't have been had we had a real serious break in falling into a crevasse very far. We've often all of us fell a little way. Meaning to our armpits sometimes, and sometimes no more than ten feet but that wasn't really falling in a crevasse. When we fell ten feet we were roped but really falling into a crevasse is when you go down beyond thirty, forty feet and endless. And you were, as you fall the ice crevasse gets narrower and narrower and finally with your effort of falling you wedge yourself right in. Nothing can move you out of there. You're never vertical when that happens. You could be sideways or upside down or anyway. You wedge yourself right in.

Q: You had a close call yourself?

NV: On one of our expeditions into the mountains itself, we climbed with all the teams up to quite a high altitude. On the way down we were going to retrace the same route as going up, but Mike Thorn our navigator on skis, went ahead. He got to one place and turned around and raised both hands which was a signal at all costs that we shouldn't go down as far as he was. So I turned my sled and broke one part of the sled but it tipped it over and we pulled up short of a very wide crevasse that had developed in the last twenty-four hours, and had he not done that I would have just piled in dogs, sled, myself. Couldn't have stopped.

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