American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Failure to Follow Route, Darkness, Party Separated—California, Mt. Mills

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1977

FAILURE TO FOLLOW ROUTE, DARKNESS, PARTY SEPARATED— California, Mt. Mills. Steve Lester (29) of Alhambra went on alone to climb Mt. Mills when his partner Hans Torgenson (29) turned back. Lester climbed the difficult face, turned back at the summit plateau, descended the icy face. After dark, one mile from completion, he fell more than 75 feet to an instant death. (Source: Carl Heller, China Lake Rescue Unit)

Analysis: Torgenson said that he and Lester had ascended the cirque by a difficult route. Torgenson, descending in daylight, found the easy side route. Lester, descending late, came down the drainage and thus fell 75 feet down an unclimbable wall. Lester took a calculated risk in continuing on alone and descending in darkness (apparently with flashlight) over unfamiliar terrain. (Source: Carl Heller and J. Williamson)

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