American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Falling Rock, Washington, Magic Mountain

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

FALLING ROCK

Washington, Magic Mountain

Ulrike Criminale (52) fell to her death during a climb of Magic Mountain on July 31, 1988. She and Craig Dupler were climbing partners for this trip. Craig was also the climb leader.

The group of six climbers was about to begin the final ascent of Magic about 1115 and had completed getting into seat harnesses. Dupler and Ulrike were approaching their first belay stance through a short gully which began with about three narrow steps leading to a grass and dirt ramp. The pair had gone about three meters, with Ulrike just ahead of Dupler.

Dupler heard Ulrike shout, “No!” and looked upward to see her with her left arm outstretched with her fingers just touching a large rock. The rock was slowly sliding down the grass and dirt toward the pair. She fell over backward and out away from the mountain with the rock. She came to rest at the edge of a scree chute about 100- 120 meters below.

When Dupler reached Ulrike about 15 minutes after the fall, she was unconscious. She stopped breathing about 20 minutes later. CPR was administered for about 30 minutes. Two party members went out to get assistance and a third went to bring back gear for an overnight bivouac. An air ambulance arrived at 1600 and a doctor attempted to revive Ulrike with a life pack. After two unsuccessful attempts, he pronounced her dead. The helicopter crew was unable to evacuate the body until August 2.

Evacuation was attempted on Monday, August 1, but was unsuccessful due to bad weather. (Source: The Mountaineers and George Sainsbury)

Analysis

Afterthought from Craig Dupler: Ulrike was a super-athlete—she always ran two 66- mile double marathons a year—the most graceful and skilled rock climber he knew. His conclusion—if it can happen to her, it can happen to anyone.

The thorough investigation found no fault with the actions of the party. There have been several rockfall accidents in the vicinity in recent years, and the Mountaineers may stop regularly scheduling Magic Mountain. (Source: George Sainsbury)

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