American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Climbing Unroped, Exceeding Abilities, Failed to Follow Directions, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak

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


Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak

On August 26 at noon, Spencer Hannah (32) and another teacher were leading a group of six juveniles and another teacher from Campion Academy, Loveland, Colorado, up the North Face of Longs Peak. Ranger Jim Detterline warned them not to come up, as they were not equipped and the route was full of ice. Hannah talked the others into climbing, however. But it was Hannah who slipped on icy vegetation and fell 60 meters to the base of the route. He sustained numerous abrasions, contusions, and lacerations, and an open fracture/dislocation of the right ankle. Bleeding was difficult to control and he was given 2000 ml of IV fluid. Climber Mike Daniher rescued the stranded six students. (Source: Rocky Mountain National Park Rangers)


Hannah said that he was a 5.4 leader on rock. The North Face route, a 5.4, was at the top of his limit when it was not icy. Conditions were so icy that two other parties on that day elected to do a different crack to the side. With Hannah’s knowledge of roped climbing techniques, it is impossible to understand why he would talk seven beginners (some of whom were seriously frightened) into soloing a technical route. The resulting situation involved an all-night technical litter lowering/scree evac/wheeled litter evac for ten kilometers (helicopters were able to land rescuers on the summit but were not able to pick up Hannah), and the roped rescue of the six stranded kids by Danier. (The other teacher had continued to the summit.) (Source: Rocky Mountain National Park Rangers)

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