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Fall on Slab and Scree, No Equipment, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Cascade Mountain

FALL ON SLAB AND SCREE, NO EQUIPMENT

Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Cascade Mountain

In July, 1988, two young scramblers looking for an outing decided to climb Cascade Mountain above Banff. Without any research they reached the peak by a direct line, avoiding an easy trail. With the same directness, they chose a descent down another face of the mountain. The line took them into increasingly steep cliffs and slabs covered with loose rock. Eventually one of them slipped, skidded, and then cart-wheeled down a steep slab. Fortunately, he came to rest on a tiny ledge a few meters short of a terminal drop. His partner descended a further 500 meters without incident to safe ground and eventually reached Banff.

A party of park wardens and a paramedic climbed all night in deteriorating weather to reach the victim. The next morning he was slung out by helicopter during a break in an unseasonal snowstorm. The victim was soaked and freezing and badly bruised and skinned. (Source: T. Auger, Warden Service, Banff National Park)

Analysis

The party had one sweater between them and no rope. Even for experienced climbers, it is a bad practice to descend a large face that has not been seen beforehand. Downsloping strata can be treacherous. The rescuers were amazed where the victim had stopped and been left. With a light dusting of snow on the rock, it was necessary to belay and use protection to reach him. (Source: T. Auger, Warden Service, Banff National Park)

(Editor's Note: Events of this sort are not counted as mountaineering accidents, the judgement being that they do not represent serious attempts at climbing. However, they seem to happen regularly, and the foregoing account is this year’s example.)