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Wyoming, Casper Mountain (Laramie Range), Garden Creek Canyon

Wyoming, Casper Mountain (Laramie Range), Garden Creek Canyon— On March 2 Karen Stubbs (19) wearing galoshes, slipped on the ice- covered trail just above the canyon wall, slid, fell, and rolled 160 feet. The fifteen foot slide on ice and packed snow gave her sufficient momentum to clear the canyon rim for a 40 foot freefall. She hit a 60° rock slope, bounded 15 feet further, then rolled and bounced 90 feet down a couloir, stopped by the narrowing gulley walls which wedged together and acted as a brake. Karen was with a party of 10 hikers, 7 of whom were members of the Wyoming Mountaineers of Casper College; the other three (including Karen) were along for the Sunday afternoon walk on the horse trails. Three climbers on the walls saw the fall, one rendered first aid, one alerted the hospital and went after the club’s Stokes litter, the third ran on up the trails and called back the other climbers. The litter was lowered by four carriers and belayed by four anchored belayers as it was brought down the remaining 100 vertical feet of the wall. A short carry across the creek and 200 yards on the icy trail brought the party to the waiting ambulance. The total time from fall to ambulance was less than one hour. Karen suffered multiple lacerations, a broken pelvis, and compression fractures of two lumbar vertebrae.

Source: Walt Bailey, Sponsor, Wyoming Mountaineers of Casper College.

Analysis: This can hardly be called a climbing accident, since the victim slipped on an icy trail where no one would think of using climbing gear for protection. The speed and efficiency of rescue was due to the presence of climbers trained for this type operation (and the fact they had not removed climbing equipment from their cars after a previous day’s ascent of Devils Tower). The value of the Stokes litter in transporting the injured down vertical walls cannot be over-emphasized. Although this was much like slipping on the ice on a city street, it is a reminder that care and caution are needed even on a well-developed summer trail under winter conditions.