American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Ice, Placed No Protection, California, Yosemite Valley

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1984

FALL ON ICE, PLACED NO PROTECTION

California, Yosemite Valley

On January 1, 1983, around 1700, Lou Renner (27) and Ron Badel were walking down an ice chute that runs in an east/west direction from Le Conte Gully when Badel fell and pulled Renner, to whom he was tied, down a steep icy slope for approximately 120 meters. They both came to rest in the rocks at the top of the talus slope above Le Conte Memorial. Badel suffered a head injury and a possible cervical spine injury. Renner suffered a fracture of the left leg, a dislocation of the left ankle, a left upper arm fracture, and a dislocation of the left shoulder.

The scene of the rescue was a steep, rocky talus slope below the south wall of the valley just west of Glacier Point. The response and evacuation routes were inundated with large boulders surrounded by deep holes. These boulders were covered with solid ice and snow, making evacuation by a litter team extremely hazardous. The angle of the slope was approximately 30–35 degrees. It was nighttime during the majority of the operation, with moonlight, and the low temperature was –6°C. During the patient assessment, small bits of ice were rolling down the ice chute to the top of the talus slope near where the victims lay. This whole area is notorious for rock and ice slides. (Source: Kerry Maxwell, Ranger, Yosemite National Park)

Analysis

Lou Renner stated that he and Ron Badel had completed their climb in the ice and were walking down an easy ice slope. They had crampons and ice axes and were tied together. Badel fell, and Renner tried unsuccessfully to belay him and then to self-arrest a number of times. They finally stopped when they hit some boulders and a tree. Renner estimates his sliding fall at 240 meters. (Source: Kerry Maxwell, Ranger, Yosemite National Park)

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