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Fall into Crevasse, Unroped, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Mount White Pyramid

FALL INTO CREVASSE, UNROPED

Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Mount White Pyramid

Early in February, 1990, ten members of the ACC Calgary Section set off to try a winter ascent of White Pyramid (3277 meters) from the north. On February 4, they left their camp by a small lake just north of the mountain, and proceeded to ski up the valley and moraines to gain its west ridge above the Epaulette Col. When the group reached the highest skiable point, six of its members, including the leader, turned back because of bad visibility, strong wind, and cold, while the other four took one rope, removed their skis, and climbed up steep snow to the ridge.

At that point Hans, who was carrying the rope, decided to stop and find shelter. The remaining three continued up the ridge toward the summit, spaced about 50 meters apart. When Frank, who was second, reached the base of the steep final slope, he could no longer see Russ ahead of him. Looking around, he spotted a meter wide hole in the show a short distance back. Russ had fallen into some kind of crevasse. Frank shouted for him, and got a response from the depths. When the third man, Peter, arrived, he belayed Frank on slings to the edge of the crevasse to help Russ climb out. Russ had a deep gash over his eyebrow from smashing into the far side of the hole as he fell in, and blood was flowing from it, over his face, beard, and wind suit.

Frank and Pete patched him up, and then they all returned to camp for hot tea, a cleanup, and a better bandaging job before the entire group skied out.

Analysis

The climbers feel there was no indication of any hazard, as they had been simply moving along a mixed snow and rock ridge, “as we have all scrambled over numerous times before without a second thought” and “There is nothing in this spot which would make a climber want to rope up.” Perhaps in good weather conditions a better overall view of the surroundings would have given them some indication. But in the existing bad conditions, it would have been prudent to take extra precautions, especially traveling over snow on a high mountain which has a permanent ice cap. (Source: Orvel Mislaw, ACC Calgary Section)