California, Yosemite (3)—On May 28, 1955 a party consisting of six experienced climbers were climbing Washington Column. The rock was dry, weather clear, and the party was properly equipped and led. Helen Rycke- vorsel (34) was on second of three ropes. The first rope had already climbed the chimney. She led the second rope and slipped just as she reached the top of the pitch. She fell past her belayer and continued 45 feet down to a ledge breaking both legs and a wrist.
Rescue operations were aided by Yosemite Park Rangers who helped lower her by stretcher. She was admitted to hospital four hours after the accident.
Source: William Siri.
Analysis: She slipped while leading a 4th class pitch in an exposed open chimney. There is no clear indication why she slipped. She was presumably an able climber with adequate judgment of climbing difficulties. The route has been used hundreds of times without incident and rarely is a piton needed for protection.