American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Washington, Mt. Thompson

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1961

Washington, Mt. Thompson—On September 2, Dave Bushley (19) and Robert Neiman (18) were approaching the summit on the N.E. shoulder of Mt. Thompson, and following the regular route. The terrain did not require skill, and they were unroped. Bushley, who was in the lead, dislodged a large slab, which struck Neiman a glancing blow on the head, after which he fell and rolled some distance down the slope. After ascertaining that Bob was still breathing, though unconscious, Dave rendered what first aid was possible. He padded him with all available clothing for warmth, and secured him to nearby bushes with sling and rope. He then proceeded to Snoqualmie Pass as rapidly as possible for help.

The Seattle Unit of the Mountain Rescue Council received the call in the late afternoon, and dispatched Bushley and Dr. Otto Trott to nearby Ed’s Lake by Marine helicopter, where they arrived after dark. A second helicopter, with James Kurtz and Ome Daiber, was unable to land until dawn, because it was not equipped with landing lights. Meanwhile, a ground party of 19 started the long approach from Snoqualmie Pass under the leadership of Paul Williams. Upon arriving at the scene of the accident, Dr. Trott ascertained that Neiman had died shortly after the fall. Evacuation of the body was accomplished to Ed’s Lake by the ground party, where the helicopter completed the recovery. The autopsy revealed that the right side of the skull had been completely crushed.

Source: Seattle Mountain Rescue Council report.

Analysis: This moderately experienced team had completed the Seattle Mountaineer’s Basic Climbing Course. While a minimum party of four and the use of hard hats are both indicated, it is doubtful that the outcome would have been changed in this instance. The need for extreme care in traveling over even the simplest unstable terrain is again emphasized by this fatality. Each climber should, if possible, select a separate route. DON’T CLIMB DIRECTLY IN THE FALL LINE OVER LOOSE ROCK.

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