American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Falling Ice, Climbing Unroped, Inexperience, Quebec, Shawbridge

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1986


Quebec, Shawbridge

At 1500 on March 2, 1985, a climber (40) with limited experience was climbing solo on a small knot of ice to the left of Shawbridge Face. She was trying out some new ice tools borrowed from another climber. When she was about five meters off the ground, she was struck by a 20 kg block of ice that hit her helmet and shoulder. The blow knocked her off the bulge and onto the snow slope below, and she rolled down the slope about 15 meters. Two companions reached her soon after she stopped. She was unconscious on her back and side, her head pointed down the slope. The companions were worried about a neck injury, and, while waiting for the ambulance, moved her only enough to calm her and make her comfortable. Another climber came by and helped them dig a trench in the snow to support the victim. Down jackets and vests were used to line the trench and were also piled on top of her. After transport to the hospital, it was found that she had a concussion, a broken shoulder blade, colorbone, and ribs. (Source: John Whyte)


Climbing conditions were fair in the morning, but the sun came out about 1430, and it started to get warmer. The temperature was above freezing that day, and water could be expected to be running behind the ice. Fortunately, the climber was wearing a hard hat, even though she had remarked that it was uncomfortably warm. (Source: John Whyte and Martin Taylor)

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