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Falling Rock, British Columbia, Coast Mountains, Mount Waddington

FALLING ROCK

British Columbia, Coast Mountains, Mount Waddington

On September 13, 1989, Richard Thomas (35) was ascending a steep snow gully at 1980 meters on Mount Waddington with two companions when a large falling rock struck him on the head, shattering his helmet and inflicting fatal injuries.

His two companions descended to lower on the mountain where three other members of the expedition were camped. They stamped out an “SOS” in the snow. This was spotted the same afternoon from a passing aircraft. A helicopter flew in that evening, but was unable to reach the victim. The five survivors were flown out the next day by helicopter, and Thomas’ body was recovered one day later by North Shore Rescue members. (Source: Ian Kay, West Vancouver, BC, from press reports)

Analysis

This appears to be the sort of accident that could only have been avoided by staying off the mountain. Falling rock is a constant hazard on Waddington, and it is not clear from the information available whether another route might have been practical and safer. The party was fortunate that its distress signal brought such a quick response. (Source: Ian Kay, West Vancouver, BC)