American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Loss of Control—Voluntary Glissade, California, Lone Pine Peak

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1989


California, Lone Pine Peak

On April 30, 1988, Dave Dykeman and a small group of climbers were descending from a peak climb that was aborted due to high winds. There was a week old snow cover on a variably breakable crust. Most members of the group chose a slow, controlled glissade to avoid a possible break-through injury. Ray Wolfe (51) had trouble starting his glissade, but shortly he lost control, including his grip on the ice ax, and tumbled against a rock injuring his knee.

He was unable to walk so a backpack sled was used to move him down to camp. Two messengers were sent out to request a chopper evacuation. The next day Ray was moved to a flat, clear area that had been marked with a colored bullseye and a space blanket wind-sock. The CHP chopper evacuated Ray at midday to the Lone Pine Hospital where it was determined that he had a hairline fracture of the tibia. (Source: Bob Hicks, Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club Safety Committee)


Contact with a rock could have been avoided by choosing a clear glissade run-out. Conditions apparently exceeded Ray’s skill level. The leader thinks that boots with beveled heels do not hold well on slopes and may have contributed to the out of control slide. (Source: Bob Hicks, Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club Safety Committee)

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