American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Loss of Control – Voluntary Glissade, Faulty Use of Crampons, Colorado, Longs Peak

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

LOSS OF CONTROL—VOLUNTARY GLISSADE, FAULTY USE OF

CRAMPONS

Colorado, Longs Peak

While on patrol on October 6, I was contacted at the Chasm Meadow Shelter Cabin by William Barber at 12:40 p.m. He reported that Charles O. Nesbit (31), a member of their three-man climbing team, had fallen down the feature known as Lambs Slide on the East Face of Longs Peak. According to Barber, the accident occurred about 10:30 a.m. at which time the party was two-thirds the way up Lambs Slide. After Nesbit’s fall, Barber descended quickly and reached Nesbit on the talus at the base of Lambs Slide at 11:10 a.m. At that time Nesbit was still conscious but not coherent. Nesbit lost consciousness two minutes later. Barber performed CPR until 12:15 p.m. when, at the suggestion of Dr. Bert Honea (a Denver physician who had just retreated from the Stettners Ledges route), he ceased his efforts. Barber then walked down past Chasm Lake to the Shelter Cabin where I was contacted. I collected information from Barber, then suggested that he continue down the trail to the Longs Peak Ranger Station. I arrived at the scene of the accident at 1:05 p.m. where I contacted Peter Bradley (the third member of the climbing party) and Honea. A brief examination of Nesbit confirmed that he showed no vital signs. He had expired quite sometime before my arrival. A helicopter was called and Nesbit’s body was flown to the Beaver Meadows Helipad. (Source: Chris Reveley, Rocky Mountain National Park)

Analysis

It appears that the accident was a direct result of Nesbit’s catching the front point of his crampons on the hard snow while in a face down, ice axe arrest position which caused him to be flipped over backwards. Out of control, he fell some 700 feet to the base of the snowfield. The climbing helmet he was wearing undoubtedly saved his head from massive trauma, although it did not prevent the basal skull fracture. (Source: Larry Van Slyke, Rocky Mountain National Park)

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