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Fall on Rock/Snow or Avalanche, Weather, Poor Position — Washington, Mount Index


Washington, Mount Index

On February 4, 1984, Philip G. White (27) and Eve Dearborne (34), both employees of the Marmot Mountain Works in Bellevue and Seattle residents, planned to make a winter ascent of a previously unclimbed route up the couloir that divides the middle peak from the main peak on the west side of Mount Index. Both were reported to have been excellent climbers, with White specializing in ice. They left for the climb after work on Friday, February 3, planning to go up Anderson Creek and complete the ascent on the 4th, with a bivouac either on the summit or on the descent. When they failed to return, Lach Miller of Marmot Mountain Works phoned Ome Daiber for advice on how to proceed. This resulted in Terry White, Philip’s wife, contacting the Snohomish County Sheriff for help early on Monday afternoon. Sgt. John Taylor and Tom Barr flew the mountain, but the weather was marginal and they were unable to locate anything of significance. While this was going on, the vehicle was located at road end. Sgt. Taylor contacted George Sainsbury at 2110 for MRC support, and a full scale callout was initiated with a rendezvous for 0430 at Woodin- ville and a 0600 arrival at the KOA campground near Anderson Creek. An MRC team led by Al Errington was sent to Lake Serene and on up the standard route to the summit. An MRC team led by John Marts was sent up Anderson Creek to follow the proposed route of the party. An MRC team under Dennis Fenstermaker was held at base for immediate insertion by helicopter when a find was made. An Everett MRU team was dispatched up the west side of Mount Perses and into the saddle to check out footprints that had been seen from the air the preceeding day. Tom Barr arrived with the helicopter at 0724 and started the air search with Sgt. Taylor at 0730. At 0737 the fatally injured climbers were located at the 950 meter level in a narrow gully just south of the couloir that they were thought to have been attempting. A helicopter evacuation was completed by late morning. (Source: Bergtrage, Mountain Rescue Council, Seattle, 84-01, March 1984)


We will never know if the accident was caused by falling rock, snow, or ice, or by a slip on rock or snow. But we do know that the weather was a factor. It was clear and warm, and that turned the whole gully into a potential bowling alley. (Source: George Sainsbury, Seattle MRC)