American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Yukon Territory, Mount Logan Tragedy

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1979

Mount Logan Tragedy, Warbler Ridge. All six of us were setting up camp the evening of July 7 on a large and apparently secure comice at 14,000 feet on the south-southeast ridge of Logan, the next ridge east of Hummingbird Ridge. The entire ridge was corniced and we were hoping to have only one camp on it before the summit plateau. Three separate members of our party had inspected the cornice at two different times before they deemed it safe. We had all been pitching camp for 40 minutes when a section gave way underneath three of us, Dale Sturtz, Matt Maytag and me. I fortunately landed on a steep ledge some 500 feet below, suffering a sprained left ankle. Dale and Matt must have rolled off, falling to the Seward Glacier, 4000 feet below. Their bodies were never recovered. We also lost most of our gear, leaving four of us with one sleeping bag, two packs, a few parkas, one stove and one pot. We had food and fuel cached further down the ridge. We also had our personal climbing gear, one rope and enough group equipment to make our descent possible. Dave Conley and Andy Campbell rappelled and down-climbed to where I sat and took me back to the crest of the ridge, where Chip Woodland had prepared hot drinks for us. We began our descent to the snow cave at 12,500 feet. We had lost our radio and tents and knew we must descend to our 6000-foot Base Camp. The descent via our ascent route took over a week, but under very bad conditions. The weather remained good, but the melt-out was so severe that we hardly recognized our route. It made the climbing very dicey. We got to Base Camp on the 17th and sat for 12 days more. We stretched four days’ food over eight and went hungry the last four. We were well past our return date, but the weather stayed poor, hampering rescue. A pilot of the Arctic Institute spotted our SOS on the 29th and we were rescued the same day, 22 days after the accident.

Robert Donoho

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