American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Canada, Canadian Rockies: Thoughtless Climbing

  • Notes
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1949

Canadian Rockies: Thoughtless Climbing. In July 1948 a party of American climbers left their car parked at the Columbia Icefield chalet and departed for the Icefield without stating their exact destination. Several days later, since they had not returned, a search was made, involving considerable effort and anxiety. It was finally discovered that they had gone down to the Saskatchewan Hut. Apparently they were well able to take care of themselves and had been in no danger. Proper registration would have prevented all concern.

A parallel case in the Alps was not without penalty. Herr X was staying at a pension for winter sport. On January 1st he went skiing by himself and by midnight had not returned. The local rescue station of the S.A.C. went into action, only to find on the following day that Herr X had spent the night in a hotel of a neighboring village, without notifying his own pension. Herr X refused to pay the expenses of the rescue party. Thereupon the S.A.C. brought suit under a legal clause which makes it a duty for such a search party to go out when there is reason to believe that an individual’s life is in danger. That Herr X was not actually in danger does not alter this. Herr X attempted to dodge the issue by stating that if he had actually been in the open he would have frozen to death before the search party had started. This argument did not impress the judge, who ruled that the whole affair could have been avoided by a telephone call, and assessed the costs on Herr X.

J. M. T.

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