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Washington, Dome Peak Area, Spire Point

Washington, Dome Peak Area, Spire Point—Sixteen climbers were on an official Mazama outing in the Dome Peak Area with a base camp located near Cub Lake. Outing was under the leadership of Ed Dolan and Jim Craig. On August 6, the entire group started to move over the divide to Whiterock Lake to bivouac Thursday night. On reaching the crest the group was split. A party of five, including both outing leaders, was to continue on to Whiterock Lakes, deposit gear, and proceed farther north to climb Sentinel and Old Guard. The remaining group was to climb Spire Point and then proceed to Whiterock Lakes. Both groups consisted of experienced climbers with many years of climbing on both snow androck peaks. Leo Margosian and Bill Oberteuffer (39), with Leo leading, started up the peak to set up hand lines. Part way up the rock face Leo entered an inclined trough. Half way up it he climbed out of it to the west. Bill evidently did not notice this. When he entered the trough he climbed to the head of it immediately below a large chock stone. He examined one rock and noticed that it was loose and relayed this information to the man below him. He then touched the large chock stone whereupon it immediately came out. He strove to push himself to the right out of the path of the approximately 500-pound boulder. As he did this, he tumbled backward down the steep slope. The large boulder went past him bringing others with it. He instinctively put his arms around his head to protect it. As he tumbled he became aware of a drop-off toward which he was falling. Throwing himself into a spread-eagle position he managed to stop on a ledge just snort of a 30-foot sheer fall. It was found by measurement later that he had fallen 65 feet. Examination by a nurse disclosed many scratches and abrasions and a large lump on the head but no other apparent injuries. The party which had started for Whiterock Lakes now rejoined the main party. Since it was apparent that Bill was suffering from shock it was decided to return to base camp. He insisted very emphatically that he was alright and that the climb should continue. He finally agreed to return to base camp. Since he had had a blow to the head he was roped to two strong climbers because of the steep and icy condition of the snow slopes. He began to experience difficulty walking when he got down to the heather slopes near camp. His right ankle was swollen and quite painful by the time he reached camp. Since it was evident he could not walk out and carrying him would have been an almost impossible task because of the brush and lack of a trail into the area it was decided to have him evacuated by helicopter. His wife, Margaret, and Warren Wilson left at 5:00 a.m. the following morning for assistance. The Forest Service personnel aranged for a commercial helicopter which was in the area to stop by for Bill. At 2:00 p.m. that afternoon the helicopter dropped in and evacuated Bill. Several weeks later X-rays disclosed that he had also suffered a broken collar bone in the accident.

Source: Ed Dolan.

Analysis: Failure to follow exactly same route leader took, in a hurry, and touching a chockstone from a positon which allowed of no escape if the rock came free.