American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall into Crevasse, Climbing Unroped, Inexperience — British Columbia, Coast Mountains, Tchaikazan Glacier

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


British Columbia, Coast Mountains, Tchaikazan Glacier

The accident occurred during the Alpine Club of Canada Vancouver Section summer mountaineering camp in the Tchaikazan Glacier area, 110 miles northnorthwest of Vancouver.

On August 5, 1982, a party of six was ascending Tchaikazan Glacier to establish a high camp. The glacier was bare ice up to about the 7000-foot level, then crevasses started to have bridging snow, with bare ice up to the edges. Above 8000 feet, the glacier surface became continuous snow.

Ross Lund (about 30) was ahead of the rest of the party most of the way up. When crossing one of the obvious crevasses, he stepped short onto the snow and broke through, landing on a snow ledge about 15 feet down. He was pulled out unhurt; the party continued unroped, since the crevasses could easily be seen and avoided.

At the start of the continuous snow, the party stopped to rope up. Lund set his pack down on snow and came back to the bare ice to tie in. With the rope in his hands, he stepped backward onto the snow and dropped through into a crevasse. He stopped about 50 feet down, wedged in an upright position.

Although Lund regained consciousness shortly after the fall, he was obviously badly injured. Although he was reached fairly quickly, there was difficulty in setting up a pulley rescue system. After some time, four other climbers arrived and assisted in raising Lund to the surface. Two of these climbers then set off for the base camp to radio for helicopter transport. However, Lund died from internal bleeding shortly after having been pulled from the crevasse. All of the ribs on his left side had been broken in the fall.

Radio communication to the outside had previously been unsuccessful but, on this occasion, the Vancouver operator was contacted. The nearest helicopter was too far away to come in before nightfall but arrived early the next morning to fly out the body. (Source: G.T. Barford and C.M. Tilley)


The accident would not have occurred if the victim had been careful not to step onto snow while unroped on the glacier. There were tracks across the snow where another party had travelled without incident earlier in the day. However, it was late in the afternoon when the accident happened and the snow may have softened. Although he had done considerable rock climbing, Lund was relatively inexperienced in glacier travel.

Although it would not have altered the final outcome in this case, speed in extricating a victim from a crevasse is often important. Rescue techniques should be reviewed and practiced by all climbers so that a rescue can be effected with a minimum of delay should the need arise. (Source: G.T. Barford and C.M. Tilley)

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