American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Ice, Climbing Unroped, Alaska, Mt. McKinley

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1979

FALL ON ICE, CLIMBING UNROPED

Alaska, Mt. McKinley

On May 7, while descending unroped from above Windy Corner at the 13,500- foot level, Tom Fux (23) fell about 60 feet down a steep ice slope. His fall was caused by catching a crampon on an overboot. He was able to descend to camp at 13,000 feet with help from his team. Afterwards, he was unable to move, and thus a back injury was suspected. Poor weather prevented helicopter evacuation to Anchorage until June 9. (Source: Nick Hartzell, Mt. McKinley National Park)

Analysis

A two-man party just prior to this had a serious accident in the same spot. They were roped, but were not wearing crampons. Descending the icy slope on skis, one fell and pulled the other off. They were able to stop themselves, put on crampons and continue to base camp. Fux, on the other hand, wore crampons but was not roped. A rope belay and an ice axe arrest are indicated under these conditions. (Source: Nick Hartzell, Mt. McKinley National Park)

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