American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Avalanche, Weather, Off Route, British Columbia, Rocky Mountains, Mount Robson

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1988

AVALANCHE, WEATHER, OFF ROUTE

British Columbia, Rocky Mountains, Mount Robson

On July 26, 1987, two well-equipped and at least moderately experienced climbers started walking in and camped at Berg Lake. The next day they climbed to about three hours below the North Face of Mount Robson. On July 28 they began climbing the North Face, and bivouacked on the face that evening. Then they completed their climb of the North Face, started traversing toward the summit, and bivouacked on the traverse. They reached the summit on July 29 and bivouacked there. On July 30 they descended the Cain Face. The weather turned bad, and the climbers bivouacked on the plateau below the face.

On August 1, in very high winds and blowing snow, the climbers set up a rappel over the icewall. The rope would not reach the bottom. They were moving unroped to a shorter wall when an avalanche hit them. One climber remembers being pushed violently off by “something.” His next memory is of digging himself out of snow before losing consciousness. Upon regaining consciousness, he made his way down to his partner, and tried to rcsuscitatc him without success. He stayed there until found by the Jasper Warden Service at 1500 on August 3. (Source: Jasper National Park Warden Service)

Analysis

The party was off the normal descent route, probably because of poor visibility. The climbers had climbed together on many occasions, and were well equipped for their climb on Mount Robson. However, their route research before the climb may have been inadequate. (Source: Jasper National Park Warden Service)

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