Falling Rock/Piton Pulled Out, Placed Inadequate Protection, Fall on Rock

Washington, Chair Peak
Climb Year: 1993. Publication Year: 1994.

On October 9,1993, Joel Blumhagen (43) and Darby Roach were climbing the standard route on Chair Peak. At 1245 Blumhagen clipped into an old piton behind a flake. The flake dislodged and fell on him, starting a small avalanche, and he fell. In the process of the fall, he lost his helmet, sustaining terminal head injuries. Several medical personnel were in the vicinity. He was reported deceased at 1330.


We suspect he placed his weight on the piton. It was rusted and the flake cracked. One of our people commented, “We climb past that one!” (Source: Paul M. Williams, Seattle Mountain Rescue)

(Editors Note: There were a number of other accidents from the State of Washington. The ones that were actual climbing accidents did not have enough detail to provide any good preventive information. Among them was an overdue solo climber, who deliberately separated from the rest of his party, on Mount Rainier. The entire party made it back without injury, but with considerable energy having been expended by guides and rangers. The solo climber was brought before a magistrate for his illegal action. Another was a 45 year old woman who fell to her death from the south face of Del Campo Peak.

Among the non-climbing incidents were: 1) a 15 year old who died around the 9500 foot level on Mount Adams, apparently from a pre-existing condition complicated by the altitude; 2) a 54 year old man who died of a heart attack on Mount Baker; 3) a man—age unknown—who slipped while going over a log on the trail approaching Sloan Peak, resulting in his death when he stabbed himself by falling on his ice axe; and 4) a man (33), hiking alone, who tumbled 1000feet down Avalanche Glacier on Mount Adams and required a helicopter evacuation.)