Publisert 18.07.2019 , sist oppdatert 15.12.2021

Safety on and near glaciers

Glaciers can be dangerous for several reasons - due to ice falling from the front or side of the glacier, because of the danger of falling into a crevasse when travelling on the glacier or because of other hazards such as sudden glacier floods or ice avalanches. Take care when near the glacier front or on the glacier.

Nigardsbreen, 25 May 2019. Photo: Hallgeir Elvehøy

Safety on and near glaciers

  • The glacier front and sides can be unstable, and large ice blocks can fall at any time. Keep a safe distance from the edge of the glacier and especially behind any safety barriers that are set up.
  • Large volumes of water can suddenly be released at the glacier front. A potential sign of danger is a glacier portal at the front of the glacier and little water in the glacier river. This may indicate a blockage and the water could come flooding out at any time.
  • All those who hike or ski on glaciers should have sufficient knowledge of glacier travel and be able to make safe choices of the correct route.

  • It is always recommended to wear a climbing harness and to have the necessary rescue equipment. Take ropes in order to rope-up when necessary and in case they are needed for rescue. If you’re uncertain, then rope-up.

  • It is important to be able to asses glacier routes such that you can plan trips where there are fewest crevasses.
  • The strength of the snow can vary greatly. Snow bridges are strongest early in the day after overnight frost. During the day and generally throughout the spring, the snow will soften and it is easier to go through a snow bridge.

  • You can learn about safe hiking on glaciers, crevasse rescue techniques and equipment needed for safety and rescue on glaciers from a glacier course. These courses are arranged by several of organisations (choose courses that follow the Norwegian standard for glacier courses).


NVE has its own security instructions for NVE employees who perform fieldwork on glaciers. This has been translated to English and  made available here: version 14 December 2021.