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Falling Rock, Poor Position, Washington, North Twin Sister

FALLING ROCK, POOR POSITION Washington, North Twin Sister

On June 6, 1993, a group of five Bellingham Mountaineers were ascending the South Face to the West Ridge of North Twin Sister on the second day of a Basic Course. They started up a short gully, after just starting the rock portion when two large rocks (bowling ball size) kicked loose between the leader and the second climber. Rock struck the third climber on the foot and broke one toe. Rock then struck the fifth climber on the right rib area, severely lacerated the left hand (20+ stitches) and right forearm (10+ stitches). Rock struck fourth climber and caused loss of balance, resulting in climber tumbling backward 50 feet down the gully. The tumble resulted in numerous bruises and broken left forearm. All injured were given first aid and assisted back to base camp. After resting for a couple of hours, the group hiked back to the trail head. No extra help was needed or brought in. (Source: Sam Houston, The Mountaineers, Bellingham Branch)

Analysis

Protocols for climbing—or descending—in gullies and couloirs include either staying very close (able to touch person in front) to one another or going one at a time to a stopping point that is secure. (Source: Jed Williamson)