American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Accidents 1953 Not Previously Reported — Montana, Mission Range, Grey Wolf

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1955


Montana, Mission Range, Grey Wolf—On May 31, 1953, Bob Pfeiffer, Martin Holznagel, Martin Faulkner, and Frank Hefferlin made an attempt on grey Wolf (9000 ft.). When they reached the 8000 ft. level it was 3:00 p.m. so they decided to turn back. They descended the first 1500 ft. rapidly with a sitting glissade in snow soaked with water from a recent

heavy rainfall. As they were travelling at about 5500 ft. through brush down Dry Creek which was no longer dry, Pfeiffer turned to see a rock-fall coming toward them. He shouted to Hefferlin who was in the rear. Hefferlin looked up to see a large boulder headed toward him. He tried to judge its direction. He stated that either the brush or his slow reaction fixed him in its path and all he could do was to fall flat towards it. The boulder struck both his ankles cushioned in the brush in heavy climbing boots. One ankle was broken. This his companions splinted and they descended another ¼ mile where a camp was set up with a fire. Two members of the party walked out to alert a rescue party while one man remained with Hefferlin. The rescue party returned at 2:00 a.m. and Hefferlin reached the hospital at 6:00 a.m.

Source: Frank Hefferlin.

Analysis: The party showed good judgment in turning back, and handled the emergency well. The accident itself was truly accidental but it does illustrate the danger of falling rocks.

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