American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Washington, Cascades, Granite Mountain

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1963

Washington, Cascades, Granite Mountain. On March 25, Dr. Charles B. Andrews (35), and Donald J. LeBeau (29), set out to climb Granite Mountain, west of Denny Creek and west of Snoqualmie Pass. The climbers followed the Granite Mountain trail until it left the timber and seemed to have exercised caution looking for avalanche conditions while climbing in wet snow conditions. As they progressed upwards, however, they apparently did not recognize the formation of dry slab avalanche conditions, and this turned out to be a fatal oversight.

Andrews and LeBeau were being followed by Mr. and Mrs. Bay Smutek who were about three-quarters of an hour behind. At about 1:00 P.M. the Smuteks observed a sizeable avalanche come down the couloir immediately to their right. Bay Smutek climbed higher following the foosteps of the earlier party. At about 5000 feet the trail cut diagonally out over the upper corner of the main south cirque and disappeared into the avalanched snow. Smutek, seeing no trace of Andrews and LeBeau, returned to the road and notified the State Patrol.

Andrew’s body was found that night and LeBeau’s about three weeks later on April 16. Photographs developed from a recovered camera indicated that they had reached the summit. (See Bescue Beport.)

Source: Mountain Bescue Council Beport, Ohme Daiber, Peter Schoen- ing, George Senner, Ted Mueller, Frank C. Fickeisen.

Analysis: Wet snow avalanche conditions are more easily predicted than slab conditions. It appears that the slab condition had been analyzed and an appropriately safe route selected. It is well to note that the fracture line came very near and even up to the apparently safe ridge crest.

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