American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Rocky Mountains of Colorado: (1) Pikes Peak

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1949

Rocky Mountains of Colorado: (1) Pikes Peak On 24 July 1948 James Slack (20), a medical student at the University of Oklahoma, left Colorado Springs for a solo climb up Pikes Peak. He had been warned against the undertaking by the friends with whom he was staying, since he was inexperienced and poorly equipped. He is reported to have been wearing only a T-shirt and Army trousers for protection, and to have had very little food. When he failed to reappear the next day, search parties were organized by Scouts, 38th Regimental Combat Team troops and the sheriff''s office. On the 28th he was found dead, with a fractured skull, some distance below the summit. It was believed that he had lost his footing on some slabs and fallen 15-20 feet.

Sources of information: newspaper accounts, and Colorado Mountain Club reports.

Analysis. Another proof that a mountain is no place for a climber to be alone—especially if he lacks experience. What caused the slip will never be known, but the elements of tragedy were already present when the young man set out to climb a big mountain alone, poorly equipped, without mountain experience, and against the advice of friends. The spirit which urges men to try unknowns will, we hope, never die. But obviously more educational work, by mountaineering organizations, is needed to persuade prospective young climbers not to aim too high.

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