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Fall on Snow, Unroped, Unable to Self-Arrest, Canada, British Columbia, North Cascades Range, Candian Border Peak

FALL ON SNOW, UNROPED, UNABLE TO SELF-ARREST

British Columbia, North Cascades Range, Canadian Border Peak

On June 11, 1994, a party of five climbers went out on a scheduled ACC attempt on Canadian Border Peak. After four hours of approach and snow slopes, they reached a location known as “The Shoulder,” where they stopped for a half hour of lunch during a rain shower. The weather then improved and they proceeded with the climb. Shortly thereafter, one person decided to return to “The Shoulder,” while the others continued upward as two pairs. Some one hundred vertical meters below the summit, one of the lower two climbers was tiring and also decided to descend, so they called to the two above to let them know, were acknowledged, and both returned uneventfully to “The Shoulder.”

The two remaining climbers continued upward, completed their ascent, and then started down along a route that used the moat between the rock and a snow patch. Although it was not their intention to descend on the snow, they got out their ice axes before proceeding. After a few steps downhill, the upper climber, B.H., apparently stepped up onto the soft, wet snow, where he lost his footing. He was unable to do a self-arrest due to the consistency and angle of the snow, and slid over a cliff at the base of it, then into a gully below, coming to rest some 180 vertical meters from his partner. He was killed. (Source: Denis Blair, Climb Coordinator)

Analysis

These climbers were in a routine type of mountaineering situation, posing little hazard of an accident, but the victim did not adequately consider the possible grave consequences of a slip when he moved up onto the snow. (Source: Orvel Miskiw)