American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

British Columbia, Mount Assiniboine

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1974

British Columbia, Mount Assiniboine. On July 25th Andrew Killick (age 25) had successfully soloed Mt. Assiniboine and was descending the long snow chute at the base of the north face. The weather was overcast with temperatures in the 50’s. Killick was kicking heel-steps when his feet slid out from under him. An ice axe arrest was unsuccessful because of the steepness of the chute and the very soft snow. He slid about 700 feet, struck a rock outcrop, slid another 350 feet, struck another outcrop, slid an additional 150 feet, and came to rest on a snowfield. Christy Clark, a friend of Killick’s, and a group of climbers witnessed the fall from their camp at Lake Magog. When they arrived they found Killick suffering from a severe compound fracture of the lower right leg. He had already tied a small tourniquet to slow the blood flow. One person was sent to summon a helicopter, and two others arrived with first aid gear and a stove. Fortuitously, a helicopter had just brought two campers to Lake Magog. It did not have a litter or splint, but it flew to a nearby ranger station to fetch them. Lew Krimen, a first aid instructor, splinted the leg, after which Killick was evacuated by the helicopter. (Sources: Krimen, Craig Sutter.)

Analysis: Killick was a climber of ten years’ experience and he felt confident of his technique. The snow was too soft for crampons. The same chute was descended by three ropes of climbers without incident, but two days before a rope of two slipped in similar fashion. They walked away with minor scratches because they did not hit the rocks. Although Killick was in great pain, the presence of his friend Christy and continuous conversation helped prevent shock. Killick had earlier said that .his boots were new and painful, especially on descent. This might have been the cause of momentary difficulty that permitted his steps to break out. A slower but safer method would have been to descend facing the slope.

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