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Prussik Failure, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Lake Louise Icefall


Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Lake Louise Icefall

Brent Davis, J. Northcote, and two companions set a fixed rope on the first pitch, 120 meters, grade 5, of the Lake Louise Icefall on 2 May 1977. Northcote started up it with a prussik and a self-belay. At a bulge near the top, he became tired and slipped. His prussik had been wet and had frozen open, and he fell to the bottom, fracturing his left leg and right ankle. (Source: Brent Davis)


Northcote was not experienced enough to use a prussik properly under these conditions and should have been belayed with a top rope. (Source: Brent Davis) (Ed Note: It is not known whether a prussiking device or merely a sling was being used.)