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Niiicola
02-02-2015, 05:29 AM
I know when people hike on glaciers, they wear crampons, but let's say a person is on the run and has to cross a glacier and they don't have any special equipment. The night before, a foot of new snow fell. Would that be significant enough that you could sort of make your way across with regular boots? I know it's ridiculously dangerous, and that's kind of the point.

Thanks in advance for your help!

frimble3
02-02-2015, 08:55 AM
I know when people hike on glaciers, they wear crampons, but let's say a person is on the run and has to cross a glacier and they don't have any special equipment. The night before, a foot of new snow fell. Would that be significant enough that you could sort of make your way across with regular boots? I know it's ridiculously dangerous, and that's kind of the point.

Thanks in advance for your help!
Do you need the foot of snow? If I had to do something tricky like walk across an uneven, slippery surface, I'd rather see where I'm stepping as clearly as possible. (Screwing up an ankle isn't going to make the trip easier.)
I don't think the snow would help the footing, as it would compact underfoot and skid, as it's just sitting on top of the ice.
I imagine you could make your way across in regular boots if you had to, necessity driving you, etc. But, yeah, dangerous.
It's what Otzi the Iceman was doing.

kuwisdelu
02-02-2015, 09:35 AM
Depends on the glacier, location, season, weather, etc.

I hiked on Matanuska glacier in the summer in tennis shoes. No big deal.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/143553/Me/glacier.JPG

In favorable conditions, it should be fine.

I'd think snow would make it worse.

Drachen Jager
02-02-2015, 09:41 AM
Yeah, most glaciers do not require special gear. Usually it's just dirty, packed snow. Perhaps slippery in places, certainly dangerous in some situations, but gear would just make it safer, not turn it from impassible to easy traveling.

cornflake
02-02-2015, 09:41 AM
I've been on glaciers in regular shoes and regular snow/winter boots, no big.

All times in summer (it is much colder on a glacier than not on the glacier, and it's not like it's 90F anyplace there's likely to be standing glaciers, but still).

If there's a foot of snow, you're walking on a foot of snow. You wouldn't do well in crampons at all in that condition. You'd want to be wearing regular snow boots or snow shoes or whatever you'd wear in snow.

The danger of wandering about on glaciers is mostly crevasses - with the qualifier that this depends very much on where you are and what glacier we're talking about. I'm talking about stable, large, oft-walked-on type glaciers. That dangers, crevasses, is going to be magnified by fresh snowfall, but footwear has nothing to do with it one way or the other.

Niiicola
02-02-2015, 09:13 PM
Thanks, guys. I've been watching YouTube videos of people walking on/climbing glaciers in Finland and it looks rather treacherous, but it's interesting to know some are a lot less scary. Regarding the snow, yes, it has to happen the night before, and it's OK that it's super dangerous because somebody is going to fall into a crevasse. My poor characters :(

WeaselFire
02-03-2015, 08:26 PM
Regarding the snow, yes, it has to happen the night before, and it's OK that it's super dangerous because somebody is going to fall into a crevasse. My poor characters :(

Then write it that way. It isn't, by nature, unbelievable.

Jeff

Niiicola
02-03-2015, 11:28 PM
Then write it that way. It isn't, by nature, unbelievable.

Jeff
I will :) Just wasn't sure about the logistics of actually moving around on top of the ice without equipment.

Bushrat
02-04-2015, 04:54 AM
Walking through a foot of snow for any length of time without snowshoes is very exhausting, slow and cold. Your protagonist would end up with severely chilled feet and most likely frostbite on his toes.
Walking through up to roughly 4" of snow is alright, though if your protagonist doesn't wear boots, he'll get snow in his shoes and suffer the same consequences as in 1' of snow.

Niiicola
02-04-2015, 06:24 AM
Walking through a foot of snow for any length of time without snowshoes is very exhausting, slow and cold. Your protagonist would end up with severely chilled feet and most likely frostbite on his toes.
Walking through up to roughly 4" of snow is alright, though if your protagonist doesn't wear boots, he'll get snow in his shoes and suffer the same consequences as in 1' of snow.
I may be able to wrangle some snowshoes for them. In fact, I wish I had some for myself right now. We've gotten almost three feet of snow in the past week and I'm thinking I might just stay in my house until April.

Thanks for the responses, all!

blacbird
02-04-2015, 07:59 AM
Glaciers are complicated structures. How you would traverse one safely depends entirely on the individual locality being crossed. Are their crevasses? Is the ice exposed or snow-covered? Is the crossing on a flat area, or a slope? Lots and lots of issues, making a pat answer impossible.

caw

Taejang
02-04-2015, 11:40 PM
Having been on a few glaciers in Alaska with no special gear whatsoever, I can agree with what others said. Unless the characters are descending and ascending crevasses, they don't need gear.

The snow is actually really, really dangerous. Particularly wet snow, which would hide crevasses with smaller openings until somebody stepped on it. Then *whoosh* there they go, free fall.

Snow can also weigh a lot; if there hasn't been heavy snow in awhile, it could collapse air pockets close to the glacier surface or possibly cause a snow avalanche along the glacier edge. Something to consider if the characters find themselves in a cave near the surface. Deep caves won't collapse from snow; such caves have been there a long time and will stay until something significant happens, like explosions or avalanches.

blacbird
02-06-2015, 07:21 AM
The snow is actually really, really dangerous. Particularly wet snow, which would hide crevasses with smaller openings until somebody stepped on it. Then *whoosh* there they go, free fall.

This cannot be emphasized enough. Some years ago the most prominent and experienced mountain-climbing guide in Alaska (with the supernaturally wonderful name of Mugs Stump) was making a routine crossing of glacier on the flank of Mt. Denali, prepatory to a climb, and stepped on a snow bridge that collapsed and dropped him into a crevasse of unknown depth, in plain and close view of witnessing companions. He was never recovered.

Not long after, a boy scout on a hike on what is considered the safest glacier in the state (the Matanuska Glacier) just disappeared. It's considered a certainty that he somehow fell into a crevasse. He also was never recovered.

Glaciers are effing dangerous things to traverse, under any circumstances.

caw

SusanSommer
02-06-2015, 10:52 AM
I have to agree with everyone who's said glaciers are dangerous to traverse. As an Alaskan, I have seen hundreds of them and walked on the toe of Matanuska once in tennis shoes when I was a young adult. Only later did I realize how stupid that was.

Niiicola
02-06-2015, 05:33 PM
Thanks, all. I want it to be dangerous, so that's great.

StephanieFox
02-06-2015, 08:16 PM
Glaciers are not slick ice, like a pond or a sidewalk. I've walked on one in regular shoes. But, it depends on how far this person has to walk. It's more like walking over a field of small rocks, some of which may be sharp. The extra snow cover might make it easier. But, wear warm boots with socks.