American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Stranded, Inadequate Equipment, Weather, Exposure, Exceeding Abilities, Colorado, Longs Peak

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


Colorado, Longs Peak

On January 14 at 0900, Mark Swinnerton (34) and Danny Pyatt (34) passed by rangers Kurt Oliver and Jim Detterline at the Chasm Meadows Cabin below the East Face of Longs Peak. The rangers informed the climbers that a storm was beginning, ice/snow conditions were marginal on the peak, and that overnight gear was highly recommended for winter attempts. Swinnerton and Pyatt continued on to attempt Kiener’s Route. Slowed by the marginal ice/snow conditions and caught in the storm, they traversed over to the top of the Notch Couloir and spent a brutal night without bivouac gear. Unfamiliar with the descent, they ended up in Glacier Gorge where they were found.


Swinnerton and Pyatt sustained minor cold injuries but the results could have been much worse. They did not have adequate clothing or shelter for the conditions. A map and compass and the knowledge of how to put them to good use should also be part of the climber’s equipment selection. A search costing several thousand dollars was necessary to solve this particular incident. It included sending out ground searchers and a helicopter into the storm. (Source: Rocky Mountain National Park Rangers)

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