Washington, Mt. Rainier (1)—On February 28, at about 8:00 a.m., Ed Cooper (24) and Tony Hovey (34) left their car at Narada Falls and proceeded to the Castle Basin to attempt the North Ridge of Pinnacle Peak. On the way in, they met a party of mountaineers who had spent the night in the basin and were going out to meet a one day ski party coming back to the basin.
Cooper and Hovey proceeded on skis to the foot of the slope leading to the Ridge. Here the skis were left and boots changed. Weather was clear with a strong wind, temperature 0° F. The slope to the Ridge was climbed unroped and from here the next two pitches were climbed alternately. Just below the last difficult pitch, the climb was abandoned due to the severe cold and snow covered slabs. A rapid descent was made to the skis where boots were again changed, and skis put on. The skiing towards the lower valley was over changing snow conditions, alternating light powder and wind packed slabs. In executing a turn, Hovey’s ski apparently nose-dived into this crust and the right ankle was broken in a compound fracture. It was later determined the ankle was also dislocated. Fortunately, the Seattle Mountaineers ski party was nearby and evacuation was made to the car in three hours. Hovey has subsequently recovered completely.
Source: Tony Hovey, personal report.
Analysis (Hovey): “This accident points out the necessity of using safety bindings. I had not used safety bindings in the past because of
the difficulty of touring with safety bindings. Possibly the extreme cold contributed to the accident and certainly one should always be on guard for changing snow conditions.”