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Fall on Snow, Avalanche, Yukon Territory, Mt. Logan, East Ridge

FALL ON SNOW, AVALANCHE

Yukon Territory, Mt. Logan, East Ridge

The fall occurred shortly after noon on June 14, 1980, as an eight-man party left camp one (10,500 feet) on descent. A snow step underlaid by ice failed under T. Auger causing him to fall into a small icy chute at the upper end of a larger gully. Auger’s ropemate attempted to arrest the fall, but was also pulled into the chute. Both climbers went into the gully, started a small, wet snow avalanche and fell with it some 600 meters to the bottom of the ridge. Miraculously neither climber was critically injured. The remaining party members assisted by Kluane Park Warden Service located the victims and evacuated them to Whitehorse General Hospital by 6:30 p.m. (Source: R. Frey, Kluane National Park)

Analysis

Both men were experienced climbers. The group was working terrain over which they had traveled four or five times previously. Auger was the sixth person to use the step when it failed.

The party was traveling in 6–10 cm of new snow which was balling up in crampons. Crampons had been removed after almost continuous earlier use because of the snow conditions. This condition was a contributory cause, possibly a primary cause, yet the same snow condition certainly helped protect them from more serious injuries as they fell down the slope. One could say that they should have waited for more suitable conditions, yet in the St. Elias Range, conditions just don’t get much better. (Source: R. Frey)