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Fall on Rock, Snow, Climbing Unroped, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Mt. Victoria

FALL ON ROCK, SNOW, CLIMBING UNROPED

Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Mt. Victoria

Darryl Bouchard, James Ross, and Steve Thomas were descending the ridge from Victoria North Peak toward Collier Col on 22 July 1978. They estimate that the angle of the ridge was about 30 degrees, and it had 16-18 centimeters of loose snow on a stable base. Although they had taken one or two quickly arrested slips, they considered that the rope was not necessary. Thomas slipped where the ridge becomes rocky and started sliding down the north face of the ridge. He attempted a self-arrest, but failed and slid to a platform about 100 meters down the face. He had hit the side of his face on a rock, and was bleeding from the nose, vomiting, and was disoriented. Bouchard went for help. High gusting winds interfered with the helicopter rescue, but one member of the Lake Louise Rescue Team landed near the two climbers and led them to a place they could be picked up. Thomas was flown directly to Calgary and has recovered from the accident. (Source: T. Auger)

Analysis

As one of the climbers said, “Undeniably, a rope and a close watch on Steve, who was the least experienced, could have prevented the accident.” Another said, “In our haste, neither of us can remember whether or not Steve was wearing a helmet, but it would not have helped his face.” Thomas was fortunate that he did not hit the top of his head. (Source: T. Auger)