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Fall on Rock, Climbing Unroped, Exceeding Abilities, British Columbia, Coast Mountains, Armada Mountain

FALL ON ROCK, CLIMBING UNROPED, EXCEEDING ABILITIES

British Columbia, Coast Mountains, Armada Mountain

On August 7, 1988, a party of 12 BCMC members flew to base camp at 1900 meters on the south side of Armada Mountain above Doran Creek in the Queen Bess area. In the early afternoon, small groups started to climb the east, south, and west ridges of Armada, short climbs that would provide an overview of the area. On the west ridge, a party of three, still unroped on fourth class rock, reached a point about 2300 meters where the terrain became more difficult and route finding was necessary. Philip and Mark explored left for a possible route, while Blair Mitten (early 30s), a climber of intermediate experience, looked to the right. Mitten worked his way up a slab to a point where he no longer felt comfortable, and decided to turn around.

In trying to reverse his last move, he found it to be a little out of reach, and slipped off, sliding about six meters into David Strange, a climber in the party behind, who tried to arrest Mitten’s fall. They both stopped on a ledge. Mitten suffered a fractured left ankle, and Strange had a badly bruised right thigh.

There were seven climbers on the scene by now. One splinted the ankle with ensolite. Some provided occasional belays as necessary to help Mitten get back down. Another went down to base camp, where the radio was available to call in a helicopter to carry the injured climber out. (Source: B. P. Gavin, British Columbia Mountaineering Club)

Analysis

Climbing unroped on moderate ground is a common practice where the security provided by a rope may be offset by the risk of its dislodging rocks. However, it seems that this party should have roped up and been moving one at a time before encountering the more difficult climbing which was beyond the ability of the victim. (Source: Ian Kay, West Vancouver, BC)