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Fall on Snow, Fall Into Crevasse, Climbing Unroped, Washington, Mount Rainier

FALL ON SNOW, FALL INTO CREVASSE, CLIMBING UNROPED

Washington, Mount Rainier

On July 18, 1985, Gregory Sloop (18) reported to the rangers that members of his climbing party were injured on the Kautz Glacier and needed help at the scene.

Around 0800 that day, the Sloop party of four registered to climb the Kautz glacier route. The party intended to climb up to Camp Hazard and spend the night. The next day they would climb to the summit and return to Paradise by way of the same route.

While ascending the Wilson Glacier, about the 2600 meter level on the west side of the glacier, the Ellison father and son team suffered a fall into a crevasse. The team of four was ascending in order for Gregory Sloop (18), Gerald Ellison (45), Douglas Ellison (16), and Jay Sloop (49) was bringing up the rear. They were traversing and ascending a relatively steep slope (40 to 50 degrees) when the two Ellisons slipped and fell. Gerald slipped and fell and was apparently unable to self-arrest. His son, Douglas, attempted to grab his father and check his fall, but was instead pulled from his footing.

All four members had crampons on but were not roped on the crevassed glacier. Both Ellisons fell approximately 25 meters on steep snow, then went over a crevasse lip. They free fell about four to five meters to a hard ice ledge then another two or three meters to the bottom of the crevasse. They were contacted by rangers at the lip of the crevasse. A helicopter rescue was completed by midnight. (Source: Bundy Phillips, Ranger, Mount Rainier National Park)

Analysis

The level of experience of this group is unknown; neither is it known why the group chose not to use climbing ropes on this ascent route. (Source: J. Williamson)