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Fall into Crevasse, Failure to Follow Route, Inadequate Clothing, Washington, Mount Rainier

FALL INTO CREVASSE, FAILURE TO FOLLOW ROUTE, INADEQUATE CLOTHING

Washington, Mount Rainier

On August 8, 1987, Larry Weathur (42) was climbing on a rope of four team members at the 2900-meter level of the Emmons Glacier, just below Camp Schurman. Ranger Baugher had just passed Larry and made a detour from the climbing trail due to a crevasse crossing with soft edges. Larry observed this. He continued to follow the track and fell through a snow bridge while crossing the crevasse. His team members arrested his fall, which resulted in his being suspended five meters deep with water soaking him.

Ranger Baugher directed the rescue operation with the equipment and assistance of his party of nine Spokane Mountaineers. He was belayed on his original rope while he employed a second rope over a prepared lip to raise him with a “C” pulley system. His other rope was freed from the lip and his pack recovered.

Weathur was uninjured and suffered only from a mild case of hypothermia (uncontrollable shivering and slurred speech—both cured with warm clothing after ten minutes). His total time in the crevasse was 15 minutes. (Source: Paul Baugher, Ranger, Mount Rainier National Park)

Analysis

The fact that the victim weighed 100 kilograms probably saved him from more serious hypothermia. The fact that he was wearing a T-shirt at the time of the fall probably led to the hypothermia level he exhibited, however. On August 9 another member of this party fell into a crevasse on the descent. There was no injury, but park personnel had to perform the extrication. (Source: J. Williamson)