American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Off Route, Darkness, Inadequate Equipmenet, British Columbia, Coast Mountains, The Squaw

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

FALL ON ROCK, OFF ROUTE, DARKNESS, INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT

British Columbia, Coast Mountains, The Squaw

On August 3, 1987, Carlo Zozykran (34), an experienced climber, and two companions left Squamish in the late afternoon to do Birds of Prey (approximately five pitches of 5.10) on the Squaw. At the top of the third pitch they decided to descend due to rapidly failing light and slowness of the party. After three rappels they reached the base of the climb and started town the trail.

By this time it was pitch black in the bush and descending was slow and tedious. Part way down, voice contact with Zozykran was lost. The others assumed that he was too far ahead to hear their calls. But when they arrived at the car after spending at least another hour picking their way through blackness and big boulders, Zozykran was not there. They then looked along the road, checked Zozykran’s home, obtained flashlights, and went back up the trail, searching and calling. The RCMP were contacted, and searching continued all night without success.

Shortly after daybreak, he was found by an RCMP tracking dog, unconscious and suffering from severe injuries to hands and head. He had fallen ten meters or more. Recovery required several weeks in hospital. (Source: Dan Canton, Richmond, B.C.)

Analysis

One small flashlight could have prevented this accident. The trail is poorly defined and traverses an accumulation of enormous boulders, but can be traveled by daylight in about 15 minutes. When overtaken by darkness, the party had to choose between chancing the trail and waiting until morning. They took the trail. A hard hat would have greatly reduced his injuries, but climbers do not ordinarily wear them while walking along a trail. (Source: Dan Canton, Richmond, B.C., and Ian Kay, West Vancouver, B.C.)

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