American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

California, San Gabriel Mountains, Thunder Mountain

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

California, San Gabriel Mountains, Thunder Mountain. On the morning of December 26, Michael Bressler (16), Brian Milman (17), and Richard Schuster (17) embarked on a ridge climb up the lower western slopes of Thunder Mountain. The boys did not intend to climb Thunder by this route, but only to reach some steep rocks about 500 ft. above their starting point at Manaket Flat. Climbing conditions were excellent at this time—the day was comfortably cool and fair and the route was free from snow except for some icy patches that could be avoided. The boys, however, had neither rope, ice axe, nor crampons and had little experience in such terrain. Earlier in the day they had been advised by a forest ranger to avoid the snow patches because of icy conditions. In any case, Bressler attempted to cross a fairly high angle snow slope. He immediately slipped and fell over the brink of an 80-ft. cliff. He landed some seventy- five feet from the base of the cliff and was dead by the time his companions reached him. The cause of death appeared to be a basal skull fracture. His body came to rest approximately 75 yds. from a nearby chair-lift line. Employees of the ski concession and Forest Service personnel evacuated the body with no difficulty.

Source: Robert Gardner, Altadena Mountain Rescue Squad.

Analysis: Obviously the boys used very poor judgment and showed little knowledge of good mountaineering practice.

This ANAM article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.