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Fall on Snow, Faulty Use of Crampons, Washington, Mount Rainier


Washington, Mount Rainier

Around 7:00 a.m. on March 12, 1981, Eric Simonson, a Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.

(RMI) guide, radioed from Camp Muir to Park Ranger Gerry Tays that an independent climber had injured his ankle. Tays advised Simonson of the combination of the ranger shelter so that he could get needed first aid gear. Simonson and his party left Camp Muir at 8:50 a.m. and lowered Don R. Tomlinson (24) to Paradise in a banana boat, arriving at Paradise at 12:10 p.m. Park Ranger Gary D. Olson resplinted Tomlinson’s ankle and Tomlinson was transported from the park by Thomas Enochs. Tomlinson gave the following account of his climb and accident.

Tomlinson and Enochs left Paradise on Tuesday morning, March 10, 1981, and hiked to Camp Muir. They spent March 11 resting at Camp Muir and at 1:30 p.m. on March 12 they left for the summit via Gibraltar Ledge. They climbed to about 12,500 feet and turned around due to unfavorable snow conditions. While glissading down the northeast side of Cowlitz Cleaver, Tomlinson caught his right crampon and twisted his ankle. Tomlinson and Enochs continued to slide down the snow until they reached an area level with Camp Muir. Enochs then went to the RMI cook shack to seek help in getting Tomlinson off the mountain. (Source: Gary Olson, Ranger, Mount Rainier National Park)


The question of crampons being worn while glissading comes up once again. The single biggest variable determining the level of success is the ability of the glissader. (Source: J. Williamson)