American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Alberta, Snow Dome

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1962

Alberta, Snow Dome. On July 15, Jack Fralick (35+) and Paul and Anne Stettner started to climb Snow Dome via the Athabaska Glacier. They had traversed two icefalls and were about 2 hours from the summit, at 1:30 p.m., when Fralick, in the lead, noted a faint line of discoloration. He probed with his axe and found the snow soft. He took a couple of steps obliquely and suddenly fell through a snow bridge some 40 ft. into a crevasse. After a considerable struggle on the part of all concerned, Fralick was extracted from the crevasse. The party then returned to their base. It was later learned that Fralick had suffered an incomplete fracture of his sacrum.

Source: Jack Fralick; Newsletter, Chicago Mountaineering Club 15: July 1961, Number 3.

Analysis: (Fralick) The great depth to which I fell was due to a number of reasons. First, at the time we reversed the lead, we failed to change the ice-axe arrest loop, which now put it behind the climber and made it useless; therefore, the violent pull on Anne (second on the rope) rendered her helpless; second, the rope cutting through the soft snow; third, the delay of the arrest by the third climber added a few more feet to the unpleasant journey.

In this same issue there is sound advice for those who do extensive travel over crevassed glaciers. Further reference is also given on this subject: On Climbing by Charles Evans and Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, published by the Seattle Mountaineers.

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