American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, No Hard Hat, California, Norman Clyde Peak

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1995


California, Norman Clyde Peak

On August 19, 1994, a group of six experienced mountaineers, most of whom had done over one hundred peaks in the High Sierra, were climbing the North-Northeast Ridge of Norman Clyde Peak. Each climber was well within his/her technical ability and had many years of experience. They were on a fourth class section of the climb at an elevation of about 13,000 feet. The group was climbing unroped, and the victim, Ursula Slager (68) had a helmet. But it was in her pack.

Slager was the trailing member of the group. Other group members heard rockfall from below, looked back, and saw her falling. There was no rockfall from above and nobody was watching as the initial fall occurred, so it is presumed that she either slipped or pulled out a loose hold. She came to rest on a ledge 150 feet below.

When the group members got to her, she had a large gash in the back of her head, was bleeding from both ears, and was not breathing. They immediately started CPR while two members (including the victim's husband) went to call a rescue. The group continued CPR for 3.5 hours to no avail.

Inyo County SAR initiated rescue procedures by arranging for a U.S. Forest Service helicopter to drop team members off as close to the victim as possible. This approach was abandoned when the helicopter developed problems with the fuel system. The SAR team at this time did not know the condition of the victim. It was arranged for a U.S. Navy helicopter to fly in at first light. At 0700, it arrived and lifted the body from the scene.


The victim was an experienced mountain climber, and was doing a route within her ability. The fall occurred for reasons unknown. She was not wearing her helmet. (Source: Greg Corliss, Inyo County Sheriff's Posse SAR)

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