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Refer to caption
Cross section of a cirque glacier showing the bergschrund
Three mountaineers on a snow-covered icefield with mountain peaks in the distance
A bergschrund—the long crack at the foot of the mountain slope—in the Ötztal Alps
Rocky peaks protruding from undulating ice masses
Open bergschrunds at Mont Dolent

A bergschrund (from the German for mountain cleft) or rimaye (from French; pronounced [ʁimaj]) is a crevasse that forms where moving glacier ice separates from the stagnant ice or firn above.[1] It is often a serious obstacle for mountaineers, who sometimes abbreviate "bergschrund" to "schrund". Bergschrunds extend to the bedrock and can have a depth of well over 100 metres (330 ft).

A bergschrund is distinct from a randkluft (also called rimaye), which is a crevasse with one side formed by rock. The randkluft arises in part from the melting of the ice due to the presence of the warmer rock face.[2] However, a randkluft is sometimes called a bergschrund.[3] The French word rimaye encompasses both randklufts and bergschrunds. In a corrie or cirque, the bergschrund is positioned at the rear, parallel to the back wall of the corrie. It is caused by the rotational movement of the glacier. In a longitudinal glacier, the bergschrund is at the top end of the glacier at a right angle to the flow of the glacier. It is caused by the downwards flow of the glacier.

In winter, a bergschrund is often filled by snow from avalanches from the mountain above it. In later summer, due to melting, it lies open and can present a very difficult obstacle to alpinists.

On the South Col route to reach the summit of Mount Everest, a deep bergschrund lies at the bottom of the Lhotse face, separating Camp II from Camp III.[4]


  1. ^ Whittow, John (1984). Dictionary of Physical Geography. London: Penguin, 1984, p. 61. ISBN 0-14-051094-X.
  2. ^ Benn, D.I. & Evans, D.J.A. Glaciers and Glaciation (1998) ISBN 0-340-58431-9
  3. ^ Burchfield, R.W. ed. Oxford English Dictionary supplement (1987) ISBN 0-19-861211-7
  4. ^ "Everest South Col Route". Archived from the original on 2012-11-28. Retrieved 2012-12-29.

External links[edit]

  • "Bergschrund". Glaciers Glossary. National Snow and Ice Data Center – via