AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Fall on Ice, Climbing Alone, Inadequate Equipment, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Athabaska / Andromeda Col

FALL ON ICE, CLIMBING ALONE, INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT

Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Athabaska/Andromeda Col

On July 31, 1988, Mike (25), a climber of moderate experience, set out to climb Mount Athabaska via the Athabaska/Andromeda Col. He was by himself, since his friends did not feel up to climbing that day. About noon, he was just below the crest of the col. He slipped, and slid down a 45 to 50 degree ice and snow slope for about 100 vertical meters before coming to rest on the snow apron at the bottom. Besides abrasions and minor lacerations, the climber suffered a broken collar bone and right ankle.

He pushed and dragged himself away from the slope, and sat on his pack awaiting rescue. About 1930 his friends reported him overdue. He was rescued by helicopter in failing light and deteriorating weather. (Source: Patrick Sheehan, Canadian Park Service)

Analysis

A slip on even moderate terrain can have serious consequences for solo climbers. The accident might have been prevented by a knowledge of ice ax self-arrest. The victim was lucky to be rescued that night, since his clothing was wet from the wet snow that he dragged himself through, and from wet snow flurries. He was not carrying spare dry clothing and might have died from hypothermia. (Source: Patrick Sheehan, Canadian Park Service)