American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Alaska Chugach Range

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1968

Alaska, Chugach Range. On 7 August Naoyuki Morita (26), Tadao Inagaki (25), Junji Nakamura (43), and Yoshihara Mikama (31), were finishing up 10 days of scientific research on Eklutna Glacier prior to returning to Japan. These four with four others had participated in the second ascent of Mt. Hess, 11,940 feet, in the Alaska Range in July (none of these to top). They were traversing an easy slope below the Mountaineering Club of Alaska Cabin used as their base when Mikami snagged a crampon (presumably on his trousers) and fell. Inagaki tried to stop him and was also knocked down. They slid and fell into a crevasse. Inagaki suffered a broken leg. Mikami had severe head and chest injuries and was unconscious for a number of weeks and may have suffered permanent brain damage.

Source: J. Vin Hoeman.

Analysis: It was a place a skilled party could easily traverse unroped with care. Had they been roped and belaying from adequate anchors, had Mikami not tripped over his own crampon, or had he been able to arrest his own fall before it gained momentum, the accident would have been prevented. No hard hats were worn. Had Mikami worn one he might not have received such serious head injuries.

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