AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Avalanche — British Columbia, Rocky Mountains, Mount Robson


British Columbia, Rocky Mountains, Mount Robson

On August 25, 1982, the RCMP in Valemount was contacted by family members of two climbers who had failed to return to work on the expected date. They had expressed interest in climbing a number of mountains, mostly in Jasper National Park. One of the routes was the Emperor Ridge on Mount Robson and it was decided to initiate a helicopter search there.

The bodies of the two climbers were discovered in the west bowl of Mount Robson. It appeared that one of them had been leading down a gully from the 10000-foot level in the bowl and had reached a ledge where he had put in a stopper. He was about to tie into it, when the second climber, who was about 300 feet above him, was hit by an avalanche which carried him down the gully. The rope hung up on a rock 150 feet above the first climber. When the rope tightened, the second climber’s tie in to his harness failed and he was swept down to about the 7500-foot level, halfway down the fan. The first climber was found, still tied into the rope, on the ledge where he had suffered head injuries either from being hit by a falling rock or, more likely, from being violently pulled against the rock when the rope tightened. Both climbers were probably buried by the avalanche. It is presumed that the accident occurred four or five days before the bodies were found. (Source: D. Stinson, Jasper National Park)


There had been a considerable amount of new snow and recent avalanche activity in the Mount Robson area.

There is no way of knowing why the climbers appeared to have been descending the gully in the west bowl under hazardous avalanche conditions or why they were tied in to the ends of the 100-meter-long, 9 mm rope, rather than traveling with the usual, much closer spacing. It is possible that, because of poor weather conditions, they were climbing in clouds which caused poor visibility. (Source: D. Stinson, Jasper National Park)