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Fall on Rock, Unroped, No Hard Hat, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Tonquin Valley, Surprise Point

FALL ON ROCK, UNROPED, NO HARD HAT

Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Tonquin Valley, Surprise Point

Two Japanese members of an Indian Summer Alpine Club Camp at the Wates-Gibson Hut climbed and scrambled up fourth-class terrain of the northeast aspect of Surprise Point (2400 meters) to a peak on its north ridge on September 13. After surmounting some short cliffs, they reached the top at about 1300.

As they were starting to descend, basically along their ascent route, they separated slightly to check for the best way to go. While doing that, J. N. (76) apparently slipped. He fell some 120 meters down the cliffs onto a scree slope, hitting his head and sustaining numerous severe fractures on the way. He was likely killed instantly His partner, H. K., worked his way down to him, determined that J. N. was fatally injured, and then went to the hut for help. A member of the camp ran out to the road and reported the accident about five hours later.

A rescue team of two flew in to the hut, where the surviving partner and another camp member gave them a good description of the location of the victim, having just returned from wrapping up the body and marking its location. The rescuers were slung to the site by helicopter, and recovered the body as daylight was fading.

Analysis

An older man, J. N. had done quite a number of easy climbs, and attended Alpine Club camps for the past seven years. As well, Alpine Club members had visited Japan to climb with him. Its not known what information he and H. K. had obtained, about their intended route, but they carried no rope or helmets on this outing, although it was definitely more challenging than just a walk-up. A third person who had started up with them turned back earlier, as he felt that the route was “too dangerous”. A rope and a good knowledge of short-roping could have been put to good use here, and wearing a helmet may have prevented fatal injuries. (Source: Steve Blake, Jasper National Park Warden Service)