American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Avalanche Debris, Fatigue, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Mount Rundle

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

FALL ON AVALANCHE DEBRIS, FATIGUE

Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Mount Rundle

On March 10, 1990, after completing ice climbs of Professor’s Gully and Under the Volcano, Greg G. was descending the slopes of Mount Rundle, which are broken by cliff bands. He removed his crampons to downclimb the first cliff and continued easily down avalanche debris toward the second, where the slope dropped away toward a narrow gully.

As Greg moved to the edge of the debris to avoid the gully by continuing his descent among the trees, he lost his footing, was unable to stop, and fell down the gully. As he collided with its rock wall on his way to the hard slope 20 meters below, his helmet and one pack strap were torn off, and one arm was badly injured. He secured his arm inside a triangular bandage and his pile jacket, and began an arduous two-hour hike to the golf course, where he caught a ride to Mineral Springs Hospital in Banff. His injuries were a clean midshaft humerus fracture and a severe compound distal radius fracture.

Analysis

Greg feels he should have put his crampons back on, and that his mental concentration wavered while he was in an exposed position. He reflected that, “A climb isn’t over ‘til it’s over.” (Source: Greg S.)

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