American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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California—Mt. Shasta

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1954

California—Mt. Shasta: On 28th November 1953 a party which included Edgar Werner Hopf (30) and eight companions left Horse Camp intending to climb Mt. Shasta. They left the cabin at about 4:20 a.m. in 10- minute intervals and agreed to meet at Lake St. Helens. At Lake St. Helens two persons carrying skis decided it was too icy so left theirs while Hopf, the only other skier, kept his, since he was an experienced and competent skier. Hopf put on his skis and went on ahead alone and the others roped up about 1000 ft. from the lake. The snow was crusted and hard. Hopf was using ski crampons and skins and was 300-400 ft. ahead.

One member of the party using crampons came up to Hopf who then went on another 100 ft. while this person rested. At this point Hopf fell in a prone position spinning and falling with his skis on. The slope was 35-30° and there was one small rock outcrop in the entire slope which he struck head first. Two members of the party tried to arrest the fall but were unsuccessful. Hopf ceased falling about 800 ft. from his starting point. When the party reached him his pack was over his head, his face was badly cut (there was blood in the snow from the projecting rock to the body), and he was gasping for air. Emergency first aid was administered and an emergency toboggan was constructed. A rescue party was alerted for evacuation but Hopf died before their arrival.

Source: Copy of coroners report of Siskiyon County, California, and members of the party.

Analysis: The outcome of this accident is truly accidental since there was but one rock outcrop in the entire slope and Hopf had the misfortune to strike this head first and receive a fatal injury. The exact cause of the slip is not known. Since Hopf was the most experienced member of the group the others did not feel in a position to question his action nor to request that he remain with them, which would have been the proper procedure rather than splitting up.

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