STRANDED, CLIMBING UNROPED
California, Echo Col
On March 11 Dave Kahn (25) and Steve Barnett (25) were cross-country skiing in the Bishop Creek drainage. When they reached Echo Col, about ten miles in from the roadhead, they were confronted by the Sierra Crest. Dave wanted to see if the other side was skiable, so he removed his skis and pack and attempted to climb the approximately 100-foot wall to the crest. Twenty feet from the crest he couldn’t go up or down without a rope and remained on the ledge while Steve skied out for help.
Because the victim was lightly clad (his pack was 75 feet below him) and the weather was cold (approximately 5°F) with a full moon, we decided to fly in at night (Bell 201 HEW). Two teams of two men each were flown to Echo Lake to proceed on snowshoes about two miles. One man climbed to the victim, determined that he was in good condition, and had him rappel to the waiting team. He put on his skis and proceeded to ski out. The rescue team flew out in the morning. (Source: Bob Pfeil, Inyo County Sheriff’s Posse)
Dave had some climbing experience and should have known not to attempt a difficult route without equipment. However, he was skiing and not mentally prepared for climbing. (Source: Bob Pfeil, Inyo County Sheriff’s Posse)
(Ed. Note: Each year we include some cross-country skiing and hiking accidents or incidents to illustrate how they may turn into climbing situations.)