American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall into Crevasse — Washington, Mount Rainier

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1985


Washington, Mount Rainier

At 1225 on August 18, 1984, Ranger Bill Moe and Ranger Greg Petzke observed a client of RMI experience a crevasse fall while crossing under the Ingraham Icefall, descending the Disappointment Cleaver route.

The leader of the roped team, Curt Hewitt, an RMI guide, was in self-arrest position along with Jeff Detsweiler, another RMI guide, when Rangers Moe and Petzke arrived. Enroute to the scene of the incident, Jason Edwards (RMI) joined the rescue and provided technical assistance.

The snow bridge on the Ingraham Glacier which gave way had caused Holger Hanson (52) to fall into the glacial crevasse approximatley eight meters. An RMI guide (Randy Sackett) was immediately lowered to assess the situation. Mr. Hanson was in tension distress due to the weight of his free hanging body and backpack. It was decided by both Randy and Holger to release his pack. At this point an anchor had been placed and a Z pulley system was used by Moe and Edwards to raise Hanson. His condition was good, with a minor abrasion and bump above the eyebrow and in front of the left ear.

Once out, Hanson was surveyed for possible injury, which revealed only the bump with abrasion and lower back pain from the stress of his harness. He was able to walk back to Camp Muir. The abrasion was treated with Betadine and he was requested to stop at the Paradise Aid Station upon his downhill return and seek additional medical examination as deemed necessary. Hanson did follow through with our request. (Source: Bill Moe, Ranger, Mount Rainier National Park)


Falls into crevasses are common on Mount Rainier, even in guided parties. This example is presented because of all the right responses to the situation. Someone was lowered immediately to assess the situation; the tension distress was relieved; the victim was appropriately extricated; and a thorough secondary survey was conducted. (Source: J. Williamson)

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