American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Washington—Mt. Baring

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1953

Washington—Mt. Baring: On July 16, 1952 Richard Berge (23) and Fred Beckey and Tom Miller were descending a steep, lower ridge, about dusk and in fog after caching supplies for a future ascent of the North face of Mount Baring. They were about 15 feet apart and were going through heavy timber and brush. Berge, who had been over the route twice before, turned to Beckey and called “my pack is stuck, free it.” Beckey went forward and grabbed the pack, only to find that it was all he held. A few seconds later a thud was heard below. Berge failed to respond to calls and therefore they were unable to determine whether he had been killed or whether he was only injured.

Beckey and Miller in the fog and darkness (after some reconnaissance) judged that any attempt to continue would be unwise. They waited through the night on top. After daylight they made a search below. Unable to find Berge, Beckey went to the highway to obtain help. While he was gone Miller discovered Berge’s body at the base of a 180 foot cliff. He apparently had been killed instantly by the fall. Rescuers took the body out.

Source: Mountain Rescue Council party and interrogation of Beckey and Miller.

Comment: Collectively the party had broad experience. If it is possible to judge it might be said that doubtless Berge was overly confident of his position relative to the cliff. Berge's guard was down. This accident illustrates again that eternal caution is a must for all climbing activity.

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