American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Montana, Glacier National Park

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1956

Montana, Glacier National Park: On the afternoon of July 21, 1955, June B. Johnson (20) and two other girls employed by the Glacier Park Company at the Many Glacier Hotel decided to climb the northeast face of Mt. Altyn. They proceeded up Appekuney Creek to a point about four miles from the hotel. They then climbed up the almost perpendicular face of Mt. Altyn to a point some one thousand feet or more above their start. At this point they decided to descend and return to the hotel. Mary Jensen, of Northfield, Minnesota, and Dell Beauchine, of Red Lake Falls, Minnesota, were a short distance ahead of Miss Johnson. They had gone a short

distance when the two girls in the lead saw Miss Johnson fall. She hit a ledge 5 or 6 feet down, then fell to a ledge about 20 feet farther. She then fell out of sight. This fall took place about 6:15 p.m. The two survivors hurried back to the hotel and reported the accident about 9:00 p.m.

At 2:00 a.m. on July 22, a four-man trained mountain rescue crew started out to be in the area and ready to climb, if necessary at daylight. At 4:30 a.m., Robinson found Miss Johnson’s body at the base of the cliff. She had fallen approximately 1,000 feet.

Evacuation of the body was completed by 8:00 a.m. on July 22. The entire operation was completed during the night of July 21 and early morning hours of the 22nd. Ten men were involved from 2 to 9 hours. A Stokes stretcher was used for transporting the body. Handi-Talkie FM radios were used to maintain contact with the rescue crew. Flashlights provided needed illumination.

Source: Stanley C. Joseph, Acting Superintendent, Glacier National Park.

Oregon, Three Sisters—On July 24, 1955, Frank Gillette (32), accompanied by Leo Margosian, Richard Chambers, Frederick Kaufman and Ronald Toks, was only 50 feet below the summit of the North Sister when a rock fall occurred. Chambers had reached the summit and was about to photograph the others. They were unroped. The rock fall struck Gillette who was next behind Chambers. Gillette’s ankle was fractured by the large rocks. The rest of the fall passed between Gillette, Margosian and Kaufman. The rock fall was apparently started when one of Gillette’s hand holds pulled out.

The rescue operation was extremely difficult but was well handled. Gillette was removed in a basket stretcher to the 6,000 foot level where he was picked up by a helicopter. During the rescue one of the rescuers slipped as he was setting up a belay. He slid backwards to an outcropping of rock, flipped over it into the air and plunged down the 6-degree slope. He landed in loose rock and managed to hold on only 15 feet from the edge of the cliff until he could be pulled to safety by his brother.

Source: Newspaper clippings.

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