American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, McHenry Peak (13,300 ft.)

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1951

Colorado: (4) Rocky Mountain National Park, McHenry Peak (13,300 ft.) On 9 July 1950 a Y.M.C.A. camp counselor, George Cowles, 23, was struck by a falling rock and as a result experienced a 200-foot fall on jagged rocks near the summit of this peak. A rescue team from the Colorado Mountain Club reached him after other members of the climbing party had gone for aid. Two of the rescue team, Eliot Johnson and David Fonscea, both of Denver, carried Cowles for four hours over very precipitous terrain. Other members of the rescue squad acted as human weights in sliding “belays” as Cowles was lowered down the steeper slopes He was treated at Estes Park for severe lacerations and bruises and then transferred to a hospital at Longmont, where it was found he had suffered a brain concussion and fractured vertebra as well as the cuts.

Source of information: newspaper accounts and Rocky Mountain National Park headquarters.

Analysis. Insufficient details to warrant more comment than reiteration of the ever-present danger a climber faces when he traverses below cliffs or slopes from which rocks or avalanches come. This comes under the heading of “unforeseeable” and can be avoided only by most careful selection of routes and by the eternal vigilance which every climber should maintain at all times on a mountain.

This ANAM article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.