American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Failure to Test Handhold—California, Mt. Haeckel, Sequoia-King's Canyon

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

FAILURE TO TEST HANDHOLD—California, Mt. Haeckel, Sequoia-King’s Canyon. Don Burgess (19) and four companions were climbing the East Ridge of Mt. Haeckel. It is a class 3 route. They had a rope but were not using it. Burgess had climbed Mt. Haeckel a few weeks prior to this climb by the same route. Just below the summit Burgess apparently put considerable of his weight on a hand hold. The hand hold pulled out and Burgess fell some 300 feet over rock and scree. He sustained a fractured right arm, superficial head injuries and possible back injuries. He was dazed and unable to walk. His companions made him reasonably comfortable in a sleeping bag on a wide scree ledge.

One of his companions hurried to the road head at Lake Sabrina (some 9 miles) to notify Inyo County Sheriff at Bishop. Excellent radio coordination between the Lemoore Naval Air Station and Sequoia—King’s Canyon National Park resulted in a safe lowering and then air evacuation. (Source: Dick Martin, Sequoia-King’s Canyon National Park.)

Analysis: The accident was caused by dependence on a weak hand hold. (Source: Dick Martin, Sequoia-King’s Canyon National Park.)

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