FALLING ROCK, FALL ON ROCK, CLIMBING UNROPED, NO HARD HAT Washington, Goode Mountain, Northeast Buttress
On September 13, 1991, Robert Nelson (41)—leader, Mitch Miller (18), Tim Hartman (40), and Randall Keys (47) bivouacked at 6,000 feet below the northeast side of Goode Glacier. On the 14th at first light, they traversed to the northwest to a near vertical wall and were put behind schedule. To make up the lost time Nelson decided the two rope teams would free climb the third and fourth class rock on the buttress. Nelson and Miller made up one rope team and Keys and Hartman the second team. At 7,000 feet at 1630 Miller was leading Nelson. Both were carrying coiled slack rope. Miller stepped on a rock outcropping that gave way. The rock hit Nelson in the chest knocking him backwards. He fell 140 feet and came to rest on a small ledge. Fearing neck and back injuries, the party decided not to move him, sending Miller and Hartman for help while Keys remained with the injured Nelson. Keys never found a pulse and Nelson’s breathing was erratic. Nelson died in the night. NPS Rangers helicoptered Keys and the body from the scene.
The accident may or may not have occurred even if the party was belaying, but the fall would not have. The party was hurrying to make up for lost time, and at least one person was scared with the climb. They had difficulty getting on glacier, and may have been able to find an alternate route, but they enjoyed the challenge of the ice wall. The guide book climbing time was under-estimated. None were wearing hard hats. (Source: Chelan County Sheriff s Office)