American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Alberta, Canadian Rockies, Mt. Olympus

  • In Memoriam
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1973

Alberta, Canadian Rockies, Mt. Olympus. On the morning of 2 July Hartmut von Gaza (23) and Athol Abrahams (26) were ascending the N.W. ridge of Mt. Olympus (9,800 feet) at the head of Fryatt Creek. After mixed fourth and fifth class climbing, they reached a point about 500 feet from the summit where the ridge was blocked by a large gendarme. Hartmut led the first pitch and made a belay with jam nuts. Abrahams then led a rising traverse, placing a piton for his first runner, and a loop over a spike of rock for his second. From the spike he continued the traverse. He was mantleshelfing when a small (quartzite) flake serving as his only hand hold came away. He fell virtually free for about 20 feet, swung under the spike runner, and turned around so that the back of his head struck the rock. He found himself standing on a small ledge with a very sore ankle. He thinks it hit the ledge rather hard when the perlon rope stretched. Hartmut felt almost nothing of the weight of the fall at the belay; the runners appear to have taken most of the stress. Abrahams continued climbing along the ledge to a stance and placed a piton. Hartmut followed, being able to down-climb to the ledge. He led the next pitch (5.4 rock) and then the last 45° snow slope before they could walk to the summit. The ankle by this time was very painful and felt quite swollen. Nevertheless, they descended the S.E. ridge (a walk down snow-covered scree and boulders), and descended a 500 foot 45° snow slope to the glacier under the N.E. face. Abrahams waited on the moraine while Hartmut went to get help from climbers at a hut two miles away.

Abrahams expressed his gratitude to the members of the Calgary Section of the Alpine Club who carried him two miles over difficult moraine to the hut, and to the National Parks Board who provided a helicopter to transport him out of the valley.

Source: Athol Abrahams

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