AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Alberta, Mt. Blane

Alberta, Mt. Blane. On August 26, Dieter Raubach (23) and Gordon Crocker (29) were attempting a new route on the west face of Mt. Blane (9,600 ft.). The weather and climbing conditions were excellent. At about 9300 ft. Raubach ascended a 30-ft. vertical wall in a diagonal traverse using a piton and carabiner as a running belay. Above this wall he belayed himself to two pitons as he did not trust the first. Crocker climbed to the running belay and after some difficulty removed the piton. He had just started to climb when he slipped off. When the strain came on Raubach, one of his belay pitons came out and before the slack was taken up on the second he stumbled and the rope slipped up from his waist to his neck so that he stopped Crocker with difficulty, after Crocker had failed some 60 ft. This resulted in severe rope burns to his hands and neck.

Crocker did not lose consciousness during or after the fall. He found himself hanging on the rope in a small gully. Both of his ankles were injured and he was bleeding badly from a cut on top of his head. He found that he could stand and was able to climb up a little, untie the rope and wait until Raubach rappelled down. He was able to lower himself into the base of a small chimney where he was tied to a piton. Large band-aids were applied to all major cuts except for that on the head which was controlled by pulling his hat down tightly over it. No pain was experienced.

Raubach set out at 6:00 p.m., about 1 hour after the accident, to descend by a different route. He was benighted on the mountain and finished the descent in the morning. The nearest forest ranger was contacted and the Warden Service Rescue Team of Banff Park under Walter Perren was sent for. Perren ordered a helicopter to facilitate operations.

In the afternoon Raubach and Perren climbed to Crocker with a sleeping bag and food. Raubach and Crocker spent the night together while Perren descended and organized the rescue.

On the 28th, four climbers reached the injured at noon. Descent to 8300 ft. was accomplished that day mainly by the injured man lowering himself down gullies while roped to two persons. Two traverses were made using a Grauninger harness.

On the 29th the injured was placed in a basket stretcher and brought down to 6500 ft. where a helicopter landing had been constructed. The descent involved one long rappel. Most of the descent was through a gulley system with increasing amount of scree. Evacuation to hospital in Banff was done by helicopter.

About a dozen men were involved in the rescue on the mountain with some half-dozen more working at the base on the landing pad.

Crocker was found to have two broken bones in each ankle plus numerous cuts to the extremities, none of which was serious. He was in hospital for one week.

The weather remained excellent throughout the rescue. The temperature did not drop below freezing on any night.

Source: G. W. Crocker; Paddy Sherman.