At Camp II, the team began to prep for the scale up Lhotse Face, which Glass describes as “pretty much an unbroken wall of snow and ice that rises very steeply for 3 or 4,000 feet straight up.” About halfway up Lhotse Face, hacked into the side of the ice, sits a small cluster of tents: Camp III.
“Don’t roll over,” Glass jokes, half serious.
On the brink of Everest, Camp III manifests just how fragile life becomes on the mountain. One misstep, one wrong turn, and it could be over. Glass knows from personal experience.
After Clemson, he headed to the University of Nevada, Reno, to get his master’s in hydrology and work with Dale Johnson, professor of natural resources and environmental science. As Glass was finishing his degree, Johnson sent him a job posting to work as an ecologist for the federal government in Alaska.
That job turned into a permanent seasonal position where Dallas spent his summers on the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve working for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. In the winters, he needed something to do, so after dabbling in some Lake Tahoe-area skiing, he thought of ski patrol.
“I’d only been skiing for three years, but I was like, ‘Whatever, I can do this,’” Glass says. “So, I applied to all these different ski patrols and wound up working at a ski resort called Mount Rose Ski Tahoe, which is on the mountains between Reno and Lake Tahoe.”
Ski patrollers are responsible for keeping the slopes safe: putting up ropes and signage and administering medical attention in the event of an emergency. If an avalanche threat is located, they’re also responsible for reducing that risk to the best of their ability, whether by intentionally using explosives to set off the avalanche or closing off areas so guests don’t accidentally trigger the snow slide.
About six weeks into his job at Mount Rose, a veteran ski patroller was caught, carried and buried by an avalanche. The incident, Glass says, was ingrained in his mind in “insane detail,” especially since he was one of the first to respond to the emergency. The patroller had to be airlifted to the hospital — he was badly injured but managed to escape with his life.
“After that accident, the patrol director, my boss, was able to secure funding for a position dedicated solely to thinking about snow,” Glass says. “And I became Mount Rose’s first avalanche forecaster.”
Glass was now responsible for watching weather forecasts and studying the snow pack in an effort to predict when and where avalanches might occur, and how intense they might be. Differences between each layer in the snow pack are what cause avalanches, so the bigger the difference, the bigger the danger.