American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Ice, Placed No Protection, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Aberdeen

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1996


Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Mount Aberdeen

About 1700 on August 27, a party of four were descending the north glacier separating the summits of Mts. Aberdeen (3152 meters) and Haddo. On the lower ice tongue (angled about 38 degrees), they were tied in on separate ropes, with R. T. and A. B. descending together on one of them, separated about 20 meters. R. T., who was higher, fell and pulled A. B. off. They both slid about 60 meters onto lower-angled ice, where A. B. managed to self-arrest short of the rocks beyond the glacier. R. T. suffered leg and ankle fractures as well as serious chest injuries likely caused by an ice ax, while A. B. sustained minor knee injuries. They were helped down by their two companions, and a member of another party nearby went out for help and reported the accident to the Banff Warden Service about 1900. The climbers were evacuated by heli-sling and transferred to Banff EMS before nightfall. R. T. was diagnosed with serious internal bleeding, and would likely not have survived the night if he had not been hospitalized.


When traveling on bare ice, even with crampons, it is very difficult to self-arrest, or to hold any type of fall without a belay, even on moderate terrain such as this glacier on Mt. Aberdeen. If a rope is necessary for safety, then the use of belays and/or protection is usually required as well. (Source: Marc Ledwidge, Banff National Park Warden Service)

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