American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Stranded, Inadequate Equipment, Washington, Exfoliation Dome

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

STRANDED, INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT

Washington, Exfoliation Dome

This report came from Calvin Hebert (22) and Greg Belding (22).

We started late in the morning on June 8, and as there is no trail, it took considerable time to approach the wall. We started up Sunday Cruise 46(IV, 5.9), which involved much brush. We completed the climb by 2200 and not being familiar with the descent, chose to spend the night on the summit and go down in the morning. It was a pleasant night and fairly warm. In the morning we chose the shortest way down, which was only going to involve three rappels. We set up and completed one double rope rappel which left us on a broad, grassy ledge. The ropes weren’t twisted so we didn’t anticipate much trouble; however, when we attempted to pull through the ropes, we had no luck. We pulled and manipulated the ropes for probably an hour but could find no way to retrieve them. We had no way to ascend the rope as all we had were a few short slings and no perlon to prusik, and the rope was largely free-hanging due to overhanging rock.

We anticipated an attempted rescue as we were already a day overdue and an hour or two later, we saw a helicopter that dropped our rescuers on the summit. They lowered a rope and brought us to the top. Shortly after we were on the ground. (Source: Calvin Hebert, Guy Belding)

Analysis

An earlier start and a trail surely would have been nice. We have both been climbing for many years and are familiar with the trouble that sometimes goes along with descending a Cascade peak. Short of carrying more gear and really slowing ourselves down with the extra weight of “what if” equipment, I see no way other than luck that our situation could have been avoided. (Source: Calvin Hebert)

Editor’s Note: The question of how much the weight and bulk slings for prusiking would really be comes to mind.

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