AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Fall on Snow, Inadequate Equipment—No Ice Axe, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak

FALL ON SNOW, INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT—NO ICE AX

Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak

On July 14, 1991, at 1530, Mark Horton (30) slipped while traversing the snowfield at the base of the Cable Route on the North Face of Longs Peak. Horton sustained a dislocated left shoulder and a five-inch abrasion to his left hip. His partners, Steve Eaton, Mike Peterson, and Gene Sparks, attended to him while another hiker, Dan Boyer, agreed to alert the park service. Due to Horton’s severe pain and ability to walk only a short distance, the park service strike team decided to evacuate Horton by Flight for Life helicopter from the Boulderfield at 2005.

Analysis

During the summer months, the Cables Route has the reputation of an easy, popular rock climb. However, it is a mountaineering route, with significant snowfields both below and above the rock band. There have been accidents and fatalities on both snowfields. Like the Horton accident, many of these could have also been avoided if the climber had been carrying an ice ax and had been skilled in the technique of selfarrest. (Source: Jim Detterline, Ranger, RMNP)