American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Stranded, Inexperience, Failed to Follow Route, Inadequate Equipment, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1990

STRANDED, INEXPERIENCE, FAILED TO FOLLOW ROUTE, INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT

Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park

On August 16, 1989, John Berry (19), Aaron Duncan (19), Quesnell Hartland (20), Dennis Schutzenhofer (39), and Erik Wobus (18) attempted the North Face route on Longs Peak. The group was without proper technical equipment, having only a three-meter section of manilla horse rope with them. They traversed off the 5.5 route left into a more difficult slabby area with considerably more exposure (atop the Diamond Face). Hartland, and later on Wobus, were able to climb out of this situation, but the others were left stranded on a small ledge. Hartland borrowed another rope from a Keyhole hiker, but was unable to rescue his group without anchors. Rangers Linda Stuart-Smedley and Jim Detterline reached the group during the afternoon storm, and evacuated the remaining climbers down three roped pitches. Aspirant Diamond climbers Randy Day and David Goldstein assisted on the last pitch. (Source: David Essex, Chief Park Ranger, Rocky Mountain National Park)

Analysis

All five members of this party were beginners. They had participated in a basic rappelling class on August 15, 1989, from Colorado Mountain School. The North Face had been the standard route on Longs Peak until 1973, when a steel cable was removed from the route. The climb is, therefore, often underestimated. (Source: David Essex, Chief Park Ranger, Rocky Mountain National Park)

(Editor’s Note: When this report and the previous one become public, the media often interprets them as being proof that climbing is unduly dangerous....)

This ANAM article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.