American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Climbing Alone and Unroped, No Helmet, Alberta, Front Ranges, Canyon Creek Crags

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


L.O., an experienced and capable rock climber who had pioneered many difficult routes, went climbing alone on May 25, 1993, at Canyon Creek in the Elbow West district of Kananaskis Country. He was reported overdue that night about 2330.

Cochrane RCMP contacted Kananaskis Emergency Center and requested a search dog. District Rangers began to assemble resources for a search, and reached Canyon Creek about 0030. They began to scan the area from trucks with floodlights powered by an emergency generator about 0115 (May 26), and the RCMP began a ground search with their dog about 0130.

At 0420 the RCMP dog master called in to report that the subject had been found dead about 200 meters down and across the slope from his rope, which indicated the section of cliff on which he had been climbing and apparently from which he had fallen. He was wearing friction shoes and had a chalk bag, but no helmet. Disturbed vegetation and broken twigs made it clear he had survived the fall and had crawled some distance. An RCMP investigator arrived at 0555, and the Medical Examiner's unit arrived at 0655 to remove the body. Recovery operations were complete by 0800, May 26. (Source: George Field, Kananaskis Country Alpine Specialist)


The victim was well-known in the Calgary-Canmore climbing community and to some of the Parks staff for his efforts in route development. He would typically be working on more than one climb at any time, and would sometimes rig ropes between them to help him traverse to a new route which had an extreme start, and so discourage casual climbing attempts by others. The arrangement of his rope on the rock at the time his body was found suggested it was being used for such a purpose, and that he had been soloing without protection well off to the side of the rope when he fell. (Source: Orvel Miskiw)

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