American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Washington, Darrington Area, Whitehorse Mountain

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1960

Washington, Darrington Area, Whitehorse Mountain—On May 30 Wallace Reid (40) an experienced climber was fatally injured while climbing alone just a short distance from base camp. Reid and ten other

members of the Washington Alpine Club had established camp at the end of the road in Snow Gulch and started preparations for climbing the mountain the following day. With the comment that he was just going for a walk to “try out my new boots,” Reid left Camp at 4:00 p.m. and started up the trail, lightly clad and with only his ice axe. About 300 yards from camp, and just barely out of sight, he encountered the first hard snow in the gully, remains of the past winter’s avalanches. About 200 feet up the snow he apparently attempted to get onto the rock again, but the rotten snow at the lip of the gap between snow and rock collapsed under him and he fell about 40 feet suffering severe head injuries and a broken neck.

Source: Kenn Carpenter, Everett Mountain Rescue Unit.

Analysis: As an experienced climber Reid should have been more cautious in approaching the moat and known that the edge of the snow was soft and very likely undercut and weak. His first error was in leaving camp alone. There was evidence which suggested his fall was not immediately fatal, and hence a companion’s call to the nearby camp might possibly have saved his life.

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