American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall into Crevasse, Climbing Unroped — British Columbia, Purcell Mountains, Bugaboo Glacier

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1983


British Columbia, Purcell Mountains, Bugaboo Glacier

At 8 A.M., on July 21, 1982, Keven Donohoe (33), Jerry Murphy and Dan Prows were ascending Bugaboo Glacier, southwest of Snowpatch Spire, at an elevation of about 8500 feet. The glacier was snow covered and scattered with rock debris. There did not appear to be any crevasses.

The party was traveling unroped, with Donohoe about ten feet ahead of the others, when he dropped through a thin snow bridge over a two-foot-wide crevasse. He fell about 40 feet to where the crevasse narrowed, where he jammed. Murphy and Prows lowered a rope and prusiks to Donahoe who was able to tie in but could not prusik up the rope. They had started to pull him up when two other climbers arrived and, shortly after that, another two climbers. By 8:45 A.M., they had succeeded in pulling him out. He was very wet, in slight shock and had a suspected fracture of the upper right arm. He was wrapped in extra clothing, his head was lowered and his arm splinted.

Two of the climbers descended to the Conrad Kain Hut to report the accident; they then returned to the site of the accident with a rescue toboggan. They were accompanied by J. Timmins who brought first aid supplies and a radio.

Because of possible back injuries, it was decided to call for a helicopter evacuation; the message was relayed through the Conrad Kain Hut. The helicopter arrived at 12:10 P.M. and the victim was strapped to a backboard for the trip to the hospital at Invermere. (Source: S. Shaw and J. Timmins)


This accident could have been prevented if the party had been roped for travelling on the glacier. (Source: S. Shaw and J. Timmins)

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