American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Unroped, Exceeding Abilities, Party Separated, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Mount Athabasca

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1994

FALL ON ROCK, UNROPED, EXCEEDING ABILITIES, PARTY SEPARATED Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Mount Athabasca

A party of two set out to climb the north ridge of Mount Athabasca on the morning of February 26, 1993. They crossed the North Glacier to gain access to the ridge; once on the rock, they elected to unrope. At the section of the ridge identified as the “crux,” the two climbers split up in order to determine the best route. When one of them realized the alternative he was trying could not be negotiated, he attempted to climb back down to his partners position. While doing so, he lost his footing and fell an estimated 275 meters down the east face of the north ridge. His partner was able to retrace their ascent route, and reported the accident to the Jasper Warden Service; by 1800, they had recovered the victim s body from a steep section of the Boundary Glacier.

Analysis

Both climbers were experienced and had the proper equipment to reach their objective, but the decision to unrope proved to be fatal. The section of the route where the accident took place is described as having “a great variety of rock quality,” typical of the

Rockies. Due to uncertainty of the quality of rock so often encountered in this region, a rope should always be considered when traveling in exposed terrain. (Source: Jasper National Park Warden Service)

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