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Fall into Crevasse — Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Athabasca Glacier


Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Athabasca Glacier

Near noon on May 9, 1982, Peter Aitchison (39), Dorland Brown (31) and Everett Fee (36) (all experienced in mountain touring) were skiing up the middle of the Athabasca Glacier in the Canadian Rockies. Just above the first icefall, the leader (Dorland) fell into a crevasse which was covered by an unbelievably thin bridge. One ski spanned the crevasse and he flipped upside-down. His pack restricted his breathing and he called for immediate help. Rope was pulled in until he was almost at the top of the crevasse. At this point, the ski slipped off the edges of the crevasse and his full weight came onto the rope. The two rescuers could not support this weight with their hands and all of the rope that had been pulled in was released. The victim ended up about 30 feet down. He lost a ski pole and cracked two ribs. (Source: E. Fee)


The second fall was the more serious one and it could have been prevented. Before pulling up any rope from a fallen leader, the rescuers should have anchored themselves and used a proper belay. (Source: E. Fee)