American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Climbing Unroped, Stranded, Inexperience, Vermont, Smugglers Notch

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1981


Vermont, Smugglers Notch

On August 1, 1980, two young men (ages 18 and 20) were climbing with no equipment on a face in Smugglers Notch. One of them fell while trying to descend to the other, who had become stranded. A hiker saw the 30-foot fall from a distance of one-half mile across the notch and summoned help. When the Stowe Rescue Squad arrived, they found the fallen climber deceased and established voice contact with the stranded climber. Due to a sudden, violent thunderstorm with heavy rain and lightning, the stranded climber was mildly hypothermic by the time he was rescued. (Source: Neil Van Dyke, Stowe Rescue Squad)


The Stowe Rescue Squad, as a result of this and other accidents in Smugglers Notch, have established a Hazardous Terrain Evacuation Team of six people and have been training for technical rescues. In this particular case, volunteer helpers with expertise in climbing were needed. It is not known whether the young accident victims set out with the intention of doing a specific rock climb, but they were certainly engaged in more than hiking or scrambling. (Source: J. Williamson)

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