American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Washington, Olympic National Park, Mt. Storm King

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

Washington, Olympic National Park, Mt. Storm King. On August 18 Kenneth Yamauchi (19) and two companions, Stephen Jackson and Bill Hartford, all student trainees working in Olympic National Park, left the Storm King Visitor Center at 1:00 P.M. to hike the three mile Mt. Storm King Trail. This is a maintained trail that climbs about halfway up Mt. Storm King and requires no climbing experience or equipment. A sign at the end of the trail states, “Do Not Go Beyond This Point.” Kenneth could not keep up and about half-way he said he would follow up at his own pace, and his two companions went on saying they would come back by the trail. They reached the end of the trail and climbed one peak after another on toward the top. At 2:40 P.M., they turned back, but dropped down a rock slide and contoured to where they hit the trail. Before reaching the trail, they called and heard Kennedy reply but could not understand him. A short while later, approximately 3:30 P.M., they called again telling him to come down and to stay on the trail. He answered, “I am coming down.” Five minutes later upon reaching the trail, they waited, went a hundred yards up the trail, and started down thinking he had already passed.

When Kenneth was not found at the end of the trail, a report was made to the Park Ranger at the Storm King Visitor Center. The time was 5:30 P.M. Search teams left at 5:40 P.M. and were back at 9:15 P.M. because of darkness with no success. The morning of the 19th, the teams went back out and a helicopter was called in to search the many cliffs. The body was found at 10:00 A.M. and removed easily by stretcher.

Kenneth had apparently tried to follow his companions off the trail, had fallen over an 80–100 foot cliff and rolled down another 150 feet. Death was instantaneous.

Source: Robert W. Rogers, Assistant Chief Park Ranger.

Analysis: The party split up, and secondly those who went on ahead did not follow the plans made with the third member and returned by a different route.

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