Rainier: Nisqually Ice Fall

As we neared the top of the ice fall, another party caught up to us. Not long after this section, we had smooth sailing to the summit. I was following Dave on our rope and Dave was following the other rope teams. Not all of the danger was past– as the slope eased, Dave (and everyone else) went out of sight. Suddenly I fell through the snow into a hidden crevasse. I immediately extended my arms with my ice axe and stopped the fall with my arms and pack wedged into the snow and my feet dangling freely into unknown depths. The rope came tight. Concerned that Dave might come back to investigate why, increasing the danger for us both should I fall through, I managed to quickly lever myself out using a technique known as mantling. Knowing I was probably still standing on the snow bridge and still in danger, I did not bother to investigate the crevasse and moved on.

Why was there a crevasse there? The fact that Dave had disappeared from sight due to the change in slope was a clue; as I said at the very beginning, crevasses form as the ice flows over a change in slope. Why didn't the others fall in? They must have had the good fortune to step on stronger portions of the snow bridge hiding the crevasse.