American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Falling Rocks, Climbing Alone, Oregon, Mount Jefferson

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

FALL ON ROCK, FALLING ROCKS, CLIMBING ALONE

Oregon, Mount Jefferson

On July 28, 1994, Larry Hermens (16) left Jefferson Park for a solo climb of a north side route of Mount Jefferson. On the 29th, Mr. Hermens failed to return, and a search was begun. During the evening a helicopter search revealed an unresponsive climber lying head down in a gully about the 9,500 foot level on the east face of the summit ridge. A second search on the 30th found the gully to be extremely raked by rockfall, and the climber could not be located. It was surmised that Mr. Hermens was swept down the gully and most likely into a crevasse. Due to copious rockfall, further recovery efforts were suspended. A party on the Jefferson Glacier route had sighted a lone climber above them on the 28th. A summit register entry for that date revealed that Mr. Hermens had reached the summit and expressed concerns about how to descend.

Analysis

It should be noted that nearly all of the accidents in the Oregon High Cascades this year occurred on descent. The Oregon Cascades consist of decomposing volcanic rock, snow and ice. Early starts with good knowledge of ascent and descent routes is essential. Care must be exercised as many climbs can be plagued with increasingly soft snow and rockfall as the day warms. (Source: Jeff Sheetz, Portland Mountain Rescue)

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