American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Alberta, Banff National Park, Mt. St. Piran

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1965

Alberta, Banff National Park, Mt. St. Piran. On 16 July Dennis Sadler, Patricia Greenlaw, Alice Hryak, and Dianne Fowler planned to traverse the Lake Agnes trail (a recognized hiking trail) to the summit of the pass between Mt. Niblock and Mt. St. Piran, drop down to a small lake (Lake Minewakun) and follow a steep trail down the creek to the Lake O’Hara trail and loop back to the Lake Louise Chateau. No member of the party had been over this route before. All members were in their early twenties and inexperienced in climbing.

A snowfield lies on the far side of the Pass and the entire group, who had never glissaded before, attempted a direct descent without ice axes. Patricia Greenlaw went out of control just prior to reaching the boulder bed at the base of the snowfield, made two flying steps out on the rocks before her right leg dropped between two boulders resulting in a compound fracture of the right tibia, some 3 inches above the ankle.

Dennis Sadler left Alice Hryak and Dianne Fowler to cope with the injured girl while he started off to report the accident at the Chateau. Evacuation was successful later that same day.

Source: G. H. L. Dempster, General Superintendent, Banff National Park; Paddy Sherman.

Analysis: The climbers had not registered out. They wore improper footgear for climbing and had no ice or snow equipment such as ice axes, crampons, gloves or goggles.

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