American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Washington, Cascades, Big Four Mountain

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1964

Washington, Cascades, Big Four Mountain. On 23 August Robert Byhre and Grant Byhre were ascending a rock gully intending to climb Big Four mountain and Halls Peak. Robert Byhre had ascended each by nearly the same route four times. Route ascended a rock gulley for several hundred feet to a broad terrace with scrub brush. Upper section of route was up a 60 to 70 degree granite wall about 70 feet high, few holds, and quite smooth.

Robert Byhre was at the top of the wall and beginning to make his last move to reach the terrace when he slipped and fell. He was out of sight of his partner. They were not roped. Byhre fell down the wall to a small ledge and was catapulted over backwards in a free fall of 35 feet and landed on his head. He then slid down and over three more overhangs and then travelled about 50 feet horizontally across the rock gulley and struck the rock wall head first. He then fell to the gulley and slid down until stopped by a log. Total distance fallen was about 300 feet. Grant Byhre gave first aid and notified Forest Service. Evacuation was done by helicopter. He suffered multiple fractures and lacerations, and a concussion.

Source: Robert Byhre, Frank Fickeisen.

Analysis: (Byhre) It is not known what caused the fall but it could have been: 1.) Foot slipped on wet moss on the rock and; 2.) Rock fall from above at a critical time; 3.) Small tree may have pulled out when used for handhold at final move. The two man party did not rope up but discussed the possibility. It was rejected because rock did not present any adequate belay stances and it was thought that if one fell both would fall and there would be no one to go for help. It was a calculated risk. In retrospect the minimum size of the party should have been four persons. Byhre was wearing a hard hat that undoubtedly saved his life. The hat was severely damaged but had protected his head during the fall except for the last bit when it came off because of a loosened chin strap.

Washington, Mt. Si. On 26 February Boyd N. Arentsen and Jack Day were out for a drive when they decided to climb the West face of Mt. Si. They were inexperienced and had inadequate equipment. The face is very rotten rock and contains much moss and other moisture retaining vegetation. Arentsen wore moccasins. They were about 700 feet up the face and about to turn back when Arentsen fell about 200 feet and was killed. Day hurried to the body and then descended to his car and went for help.

Source: Frank Fickeisen.

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