American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

California, Sierra Nevada, Sugar Bowl

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1966

California, Sierra Nevada, Sugar Bowl. On 2 January John G. Hurst (33) and Molly Goodman (26) were making a well known ski tour from Sugar Bowl to Benson Hut, on the slopes of Mt. Anderson. Hurst was on skis and Goodman on snowshoes. One normally starts by climbing to near the top of Mt. Lincoln and traversing south across the east face. The Mt. Lincoln chair lift had been closed for several days, therefore, the Sugar Bowl ski patrol had not been up the mountain to trigger avalanches on dangerous slopes. The wind-slab avalanche was great due to previous heavy snowfall accompanied by high winds. Before the pair started up the mountain they were warned by the Sugar Bowl ski patrol to avoid that slope. They had the option of crossing south on top of the mountain or going through the trees low on the east face. They cut across the middle of the dangerous slope, 200 feet below the top. The avalanche carried them into the trees. Hurst was half buried and suffered broken ribs. He extricated himself, probed for her body with a ski pole, and then started down for help, sinking in two or three feet at each step. The accident happened at 1:30. Two hours later he reached Sugar Bowl Lodge. At about 5:00 p.m., with Hurst as guide, the first rescue team started up. Miss Goodman’s body was found at 8:30 p.m., buried under eight feet of snow.

Source: Royal Robbins and Clyde Deal.

Analysis: An unfortunate case of misjudgment.

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