American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Washington, Cascades, Mt. Baker

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

Washington, Cascades, Mt. Baker. On November 2 Hans Jorritsma (30), and Joan Huckell (27) hiked in and established a camp at Camp Kizer on the north side of Mt. Baker. They carried skis and climbing equipment. At 4:30 A.M. on the third, they proceeded up the north side and passed through the Portals, two rock basions forming a gateway to the Rainbow Glacier.

Jorritsma apparently attempted to climb the mountain leaving the girl on or near the Rainbow Glacier. He proceeded alone and climbed above the Coxcomb on the north ridge to a point some 200 feet below the summit. The weather was excellent, but he turned back due to lack of time. His ascent had been slowed by the necessity to chop steps, as he was not equipped with crampons. He descended and joined the girl; they roped up, and proceeded for the Portals across the glacier.

Somewhere near the West Portal, Jorritsma slipped and pulled the girl down. She struck some rocks, injured her head, and as she had trouble breathing, he believed she had also injured her ribs. As she was unable to walk, he helped her to the edge of the glacier and placed her in a shallow moat between the rock and the ice. The accident occurred at about 3:00 P.M. He remained with her until 3:00 A.M. when he left to get help. He did not go by way of Camp Kizer but took what he thought to be a short cut to the highway through brush and logging roads. He notified the Forest Service of the accident. The rescue team reached the girl on noon Monday—45 hours after the accident. She was dead, and due to the severe weather, it was decided that an evacuation of the body was impossible. (See Rescue Report)

Source: Frank C. Fickeisen.

Analysis: A climb of Mt. Baker by a poorly equipped party of two in November is an invitation for serious trouble. Once the accident had occurred the decision to stay overnight with the girl, the decision to take a “short cut” back for help, and the confused statement concerning the location of the girl all contributed to loss of time. Even in good weather time is of the essence in securing proper medical attention for an injured person. These decisions wiped out the faint chance the girl may have had for survival.

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