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Slip on Snow, Fatigue, Inadequate Protection — Washington, Mount Anderson


Washington, Mount Anderson

On July 27, 1982, Dr. Robert Thompson (40) and Dr. Robert Oaks (40) were injured in a fall on Mount Anderson in Olympic National Park. Ranger George Bowen was given the following information by Maura Oaks, wife of Robert Oaks.

According to her, the party failed to reach the summit of Mount Anderson because of snow conditions and lack of equipment. They were descending the Flypaper Pass on the Anderson Glacier side.

The party was strung out down the chute with Oaks bringing up the rear. Thompson was about midway down the chute. Oaks began to sway and stumble. He had a large, heavy day pack on and the center of gravity was quite high. He pitched forward and began sliding down the chute. Thompson took a stance below Oaks with the thought of slowing down his rate of descent. Following their collision, they both tumbled into a bergschrund near the bottom of the chute, where they fell about three meters to the bottom.

Since both victims were physicians, Oaks began to treat Thompson, the more seriously injured. Oaks had lost his glasses and could only see at a distance. Evan Oaks (13) began assisting his father and Maura Oaks hiked to Honeymoon Meadows.

She failed to find park personnel at Honeymoon Meadows and continued down the trail to Dosewallips Ranger Station, where she contacted Ranger Gregory Schroer at 2010 hours.

The following report by Gregory Schroer describes the events of the rescue. On July 28, at 0130 hours, Schroer arrived at the accident scene on the Anderson Glacier. He evaluated the health of the three climbers who were near the lower bergschrund on Flypaper Pass. Thompson had multiple lacerations of head, arms and legs and exhibited possible fractures of both legs and the right collarbone. Schroer bandaged Thompson’s lacerations, splinted his legs and immobilized his right shoulder. Thompson had been unconscious for five to ten minutes following the fall. When Schroer arrived on the scene, Thompson was conscious but delirious and did not recognize his surroundings. R. Oaks was weak with mild shock. E. Oaks was unhurt and in stable condition.

Schroer monitored vital signs throughout the night. At 0600, a U.S. Navy Sea King helicopter arrived and evacuated the victims to Hurricane Ridge, where they were transferred to an ambulance. (Source: George Bowen and Gregory Schroer, SAR Mission Reports)


The report does not indicate whether the party was using ropes. In chutes, a rope may not be necessary but could be useful if people are fatigued and in keeping the party close together. In chutes, staying close together is the recommended practice. (Source: J. Williamson)