AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Oregon, Mt. Hood, Eliot Glacier

Oregon, Mt. Hood, Eliot Glacier. On 8 October, Bud Siegel (36) and Chuck Gibson (39) experienced mountaineers and active members in Mountain Rescue and Safety Council of Oregon and the Mt. Hood Ski Patrol, left their car at timberline at 9:30 a.m. under ideal weather for a snow and ice practice session on Eliot Glacier. After hiking up the lateral moraine and traversing the lower glacier, the pair climbed the center portion of the ice fall cutting steps and hand holds in hard ice and arriving on the upper glacier by 12:00 noon. The glacier headwall appeared too hazardous to proceed further and a decision was made to return by the route just ascended. The descent was made in good order and the climbers had almost reached safe terrain when the fall occurred. Siegel was making a hip belay out of a shallow picket with a small serac as back up to the belay. Siegel later said he felt he was in an almost bomb-proof position. Gibson was about six feet above his belayer on moderately steep ice and about 30 feet off to one side cramponing down facing out when his foot slipped out and he landed on his back. He picked up speed rapidly and pendulumed somewhat across the slope. Gibson rolled over into a self arrest position but was unable to reduce his speed on the hard ice. In this position his crampons caught on an ice hummock breaking both bones in several places in his lower left leg. In the meantime, Siegel, having plenty of warning prepared himself for a dynamic arrest of the fall. The stiff ? inch goldline rope running across his frame rucksack apparently met with too much friction and did not run as anticipated and Siegel was yanked from his position and airborne immediately. He believes that his ankle was broken (compression fracture) at the moment of impact of Gibson’s weight. Both men slid and bounded approximately 300 feet over steep ice coming to rest astride a small crevasse. Gibson’s leg was splinted using the frame from a small rucksack, ice axe, 3 inch roller gauze and nylon webbing. With Siegel’s assistance, Gibson lowered himself four rope lengths using two ropes and ice screws to safe ground at the bottom of the ice fall. Here he was made comfortable in a sun cup using down parkas, wind pants and parka, poncho and ropes. Siegel with a cravat ankle bandage to support his injuries began to hobble his way down the mountain at 5:45 p.m. A testimonial to his determination is shown by the fact it took him in his condition nine hours to cross the lower glacier (including two crevasses) climb the lateral morraine and descend the trail to timberline, a distance of two miles. At timber- line he made his way to the Crag Rats club cabin where he alerted the weekend guests there (3:00 a.m.). Two climbers immediately left for the glacier with sleeping bag, food and first aid supplies while another was dispatched down the road to alert the mountain rescue group in Hood River, Oregon. The first two reached Gibson about 6:30 a.m. and found him in good condition (the night temperature was no more than freezing). The main rescue team (30 men) with radios and rescue sled arrived at about 7:30 a.m. Gibson and Siegel were evacuated from timberline by pickup camper to Portland, Oregon, by 11:30 a.m. Both recovered in a Portland hospital.

Source: Ross Petrie, Bud Siegel, and Chuck Gibson

Analyses: (Gibson and Siegel) More attention should have been paid to crampon technique; an ice screw might have secured the belay position; the belay rope perhaps should not have passed over the rucksack.

(Ross Petrie) Even though this was a Saturday practice session under ideal weather, both climbers were fully equipped with climbing gear, clothes, food, first aid supplies and hard hats. Complete knowledge of first aid and terrain and the fact that they did not wait to be found lessened the seriousness of a possibly disastrous situation.