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Fall on Snow, Exceeding Abilities, Inexperience, Washington, Mount Washington


Washington, Mount Washington

On May 18, 1985, a group of 20 Boy Scouts, including six or seven leaders, were returning

from the summit of Mt. Washington in the Olympic Range when one of the rope leaders, Steve Oak (36), slipped and could not stop his fall. He pulled three others who were on his rope down with him. They all went over a six to nine meter rock cliff, landed on a 35-40 degree snow slope and slid another 100 meters in soft, wet snow, coming to rest where the slope was about 25 degrees. Amazingly, one of the four escaped injury. Two other youths were tied to the rope, but were spared the fall, because the rope “practically fell off them” when the fall began. (Source: Jim Groh)


Jim Groh and his climbing partner, Dick Waldo, were fortunately nearby. Waldo had his handie-talkie ham radio with him, and was able to call in some help. By the time the rescue operation was secured, 33 people had spent over 200 hours, including nine by helicopter and fixed wing aircraft.

The level of training this group had prior to the climb was one ascent of Mt. Ellinor. (Source: J. Williamson, gleaned from several reports)