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Fall on Rock, Climbing Unroped, Failure to Follow Route, California, Disappointment Peak


California, Disappointment Peak

On the morning of September 13,1986, Scott Denton (30) and Don Kershaw (28) started off on what was to be a long day of climbing. They planned to climb Disappointment Peak, traverse over to Middle Palisade and then traverse over to Norman Clyde. They brought a rope and some slings for the fourth class they thought they might encounter on the traverse from Middle Palisade to Norman Clyde.

Scott and Don started up the Middle Palisade Glacier. Since neither had crampons, they had to work their way around the ice. Scott and Don crossed over the bergschrund

from the Middle Palisade Glacier and continued up on rock leading toward Disappointment Peak. Neither Scott nor Don was familiar with the route they were climbing. (As it turns out, they were on the Northeast Couloir route, which is rated a class 4 route in Roper’s The Climber’s Guide to the High Sierra.) When they got into some difficult climbing, they decided to traverse over into an area that appeared to be easier. Scott was climbing above Don and called down to make sure everything was all right. Don responded that everything was fine, so they continued to traverse. Moments later Scott heard Don falling. Don fell about 15 meters and ended up about three meters down in the bergschrund. Scott climbed down to Don and gave him CPR for about 15 minutes with no response, so Scott quickly hiked out to report the accident to the Sheriff. (Source: Linda Finco, China Lake Mountain Rescue Group)