American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Cornice Collapse, Unroped, Inattention, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Saddle Mountain

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1992


Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Saddle Mountain

On January 29, 1991, about 1500, Jacques and France had just completed a ski ascent of Saddle Mountain, with their dog accompanying them. They were walking along the corniced ridge to the summit when France broke through the overhanging cornice and fell down the vertical quartzite cliffs into a gully, a total distance of 400 meters. Jacques skied down to report the accident. The area was searched by helicopter in failing light, and two rescuers were slung in to the site. They located France’s body, but due to darkness, it was not recovered until the following morning.


Cornices along ridges can present a significant hazard. In this case, the victim may have been led too close to the edge while trying to get her dog away from it. (Source: Banff National Park Warden Service)

(Editor: In reference to the last comment, it would be a most unfortunate case of self- endangerment in attempting to protect another party member.)

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