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Fall on Snow, Unable to Self-Arrest, No Hard Hat, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak


Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak

On February 3, 1993, at 1200, Carl Siegel (30) and Tim Cumbo (35) were descending the Cables (North Face) Route on Longs Peak after having successfully completed a five day ascent of D7 on the Diamond face. Siegel fell from a snowpatch about 100 feet above the highest of the old Cables Route bolts. He attempted to self-arrest with his Stubai modular ice axe but did not have the wrist loop around his wrist. The axe ripped out of his hands and remained planted in the snow. Siegel slid a total distance of about 500 feet over rock cliffs and snowfields to a point about 200 feet north and downhill of Chasm View. Cumbo and nearby soloist Derek Hersey, who responded from the Diamond to Cumbo's calls for help, were unable to find any life signs in Siegel. The body was evacuated by Rocky Mountain National Park Rangers with a helicopter on the following day.


Cumbo witnessed the fall but not the exact event which precipitated Siegel's slip on the snow covered rock. Rangers did observe a crampon stab mark on Siegel's left gaiter, which points to the possibility of Siegel tripping on his crampon. According to Larimer County Coroner Charles Lavato, Siegel died as a result of cerebral contusions due to multiple blunt trauma to the head and face. There were no other major injuries to any other body parts. Lavato, who is also a climber, said that had Siegel worn his helmet, he most probably would have survived the fall. Siegel was performing as most climbers normally do at this point in their climb—when fatigue sets in and the mental attitude that the climb is over. He was an outstanding and experienced climber with major climbs on several continents. (Source: Jim Detterline, Longs Peak Supervisory Climbing Ranger, Rocky Mountain National Park)