American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Slip on Snow, Unroped, Haste, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Three Sisters, Big Sister

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1993

SLIP ON SNOW, UNROPED, HASTE

Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Three Sisters, Big Sister

About 1315 on September 30, 1992, Richard O. and Jim B. were hurrying upward in strong winds on the southwest slopes of the third Sister (2937 meters) when Richard slipped on a small patch of snow and fell about six meters. He sustained injuries suspected to be a broken left leg and right ankle. Jim tried to help Richard down the mountain, but his injuries were too severe. Jim made him as comfortable as possible and went down alone for help. He reached the Spray Lakes Ranger Station at 1430.

Rangers from Bow Valley and Peter Lougheed Provincial Parks were soon transported to the accident site by a unit from Canmore Helicopters, using the sling method. They treated Richard, immobilized his injuries, and then slung him down to an ambulance waiting at the road.

Analysis

Rangers determined from discussion with the climbers that they seemed overconfident and were moving fast, perhaps too fast. The strong wind blowing at the time also contributed to the accident. Use of a rope in exposed or tricky sections may have averted the accident, while costing them little more time. This is the first accident reported on a route described in a new guide book of mountain scrambles. Scramblers need to read the fine print in this book and appropriately evaluate their choice of route. (Source: George Field, Alpine Specialist, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park)

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