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Falling Ice, Washington, Mount Baker


Washington, Mount Baker

Maurice Vinet (33), Thomas Baker (24), and Clayton Straseske (32) were struck by an icefall and snow slide on Mount Baker on July 16, 1981.

Baker, an employee of Liberty Bell Alpine Tours, had been leading the three-man climbing party on the north ridge of Mount Baker. He suffered a broken wrist in the icefall.

Two members of the North Cascades Alpine School, David Bishop (23) of Bellingham and David Smethurst of Pittsford, New York, saw the injured climbers soon after they were hit by the ice and rappelled down an ice cliff to them.

“When I looked down one guy had slid a ways and was down by a snowed-over crevasse. I saw some chunks of ice still going by them,” Bishop said.

The injured men were helped 300 yards down the mountain to a rock outcropping. Vinet’s injuries prevented him from walking, so he was placed in a seat fashioned from rope and carried on Bishop’s back, with Smethurst helping in case Bishop slipped.

The injured men were given food, extra clothing and a first-aid kit. When the injured climbers seemed to be in stable condition, Bishop and Smethurst continued down the mountain to summon help. (Source: The Seattle Times, July 18, 1981)