American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Washington, Stuart Range, Mt. Stuart

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

Washington, Stuart Range, Mt. Stuart. On 30 June Charles K. Rothgeb (23) was leading four inexperienced persons on a climb near the base of Mt. Stuart. During the climb one of the members lost his ice-axe so Rothgeb gave him his. Later as they crossed some ice he gave another his crampons. At one point shortly thereafter at about 2300 Rothgeb fell into a moat between rock and ice and under a waterfall. The other members of the party dropped down a rope and Rothgeb tied onto it. They then tried to pull him out. Rothgeb reportedly reached the lip of ice but then was unable to climb out and his companions did not have sufficient experience and training to rescue him. His companions left at about 0100 the next day. He died of exposure some time after that.

Source: Bill Asplund, Hal Foss, and newspaper account.

Analysis: Basic climbing procedures with the group properly equipped and trained for travel on ice and snow would have prevented this accident. Once in a moat, four persons should have been able to rescue him with only rudimentary knowledge. Rothgeb also had no prussik loops that could have facilitated his rescue. This accident demonstrates the problem that when a leader of an inexperienced party gets into trouble there is no one to rescue him.

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