American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Ice, Roped but not Belayed, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Mount Aberdeen

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1991

FALL ON ICE, ROPED BUT NOT BELAYED

Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Mount Aberdeen

The initial pitches of the North Glacier route of Mount Aberdeen consist of 35-degree ice, usually bare in summer. On July 14, 1990, two climbers were roped together and moving simultaneously up this section without protection when the lower one lost a crampon, slipped, and pulled his partner from his stance. They fell about 65 meters and stopped in the rocks below. One of them sustained an ankle fracture while the other sustained ankle and wrist fractures. The latter lowered his partner to a more comfortable position and then retraced the approach to summon help. After about five hours of hobbling, he came across a hiking party; they went out and reported the accident. Both victims were rescued later that day by the Banff Warden Service.

Analysis

It should be recognized that, on even ‘moderately’ steep ice, it is very difficult to arrest a fall, particularly when roped to another climber. If the use of the rope is required, then the use of a proper anchor and belay is probably also required. (Source: Marc Ledwidge, Warden Service, Banff National Park)

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