American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Inadequate Protection, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Mt. Athabasca, North Face

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1980

FALL ON ROCK, INADEQUATE PROTECTION

Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Mt. Athabasca, North Face

Peter Haase (18) and John Leedale (22) were climbing the north face of Mt. Athabasca about 1100 hours on 30 June 1979. Leedale, who was leading, removed his crampons and climbed the cliff directly instead of following the usual rock gully through the rock band to the summit. He placed a few chocks in the first 35 feet in very rotten rock, but higher up, where the angle lessened, he did not, and reached the final rock just below the summit. It was covered with verglas and soft snow. He chopped a small step, stepped up, and stuck his axe into the summit snow. He decided to try the next two or three steps to the summit, but slipped, slid down the rocks and over the cliff, pulled out his chocks, and landed on the snow about 100 feet below Haase. Haase stopped him with the rope after letting about 25 feet slip. After several minutes, Leedale was able to secure himself and Haase climbed down to him. His arm was broken at the wrist and he had lost his ice axe. Haase let Leedale down the mountain on the rope pitch by pitch, mostly in a whiteout. They reached the end of the moraine and help at 2245 hours. (Source: Peter Haase)

Analysis

Climbing on verglas 100 feet above the last protection is dangerous. A better procedure would have been to belay below the summit. (Source: Peter Haase)

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