American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

California, Matterhorn Peak

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1959

California, Matterhorn Peak—On June 15, while descending a broad snow chute on Matterhorn Peak, George Wallerstein (28) tripped and fell. As he attempted a self-arrest with his ice ax somehow he was impaled on the point, which went completely through his leg. Fortunately no major vessels were injured. First aid was given and he was able to ski and hike out by himself. There were 37 on the trip. His wound healed without incident and he climbed North Palisade 20 days later.

Source: Mugelnoos No. 307, July 10, 1958: George Wallerstein.

Analysis: As Wallerstein pointed out in his letter, more organized practice in ice ax technique is advisable. He further suggested that groups who have had limited experience with the ax use two or more week-ends in the early spring for practice. This should include practice of the techniques on hard frozen snow as well as on the softer snow of the afternoon.

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