American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Ice, Caught Off Guard—Post Climbing, California, Mount Dana

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


California, Mount Dana

On October 9, 1988, Steve Letts (40) fell about 150 meters after he had just unroped from his climbing partner, Richard Hasbrouck. They had descended the 40 degree slope and were standing on a gentle section of the ice when Letts lost his balance and fell, finally self-arresting 150 meters down. He suffered a compound fracture of the right tibula and fibula.

The complicated rescue was not completed until the next morning. (Source: From a report by Scott Emmerich, Ranger, Yosemite National Park)


Probably the most common cause of injury on descents is letting one’s vigilance lapse in what seems to be a “safe zone” after long hours on more technical terrain. This, combined with post-climb elation and fatigue, have long been recognized as hazards by climbers. (Source: Jed Williamson)

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