American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Avalanche, Alaska, Glacier Bay National Park, Mount Orville

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

AVALANCHE

Alaska, Glacier Bay National Park, Mount Orville

Three climbers found dead April 25, on Mount Orville (10,495 feet) have been identified as Phil Kaufman (c. 30) and Patrick Simmons (c. 30), both of Seattle, and Steve Carroll (32) of South Hampton, New Hampshire. Another group of climbers found the three roped together at the base of Mount Orville, a 10,495-foot peak in Glacier Bay National Park about 100 miles southeast of Yakutat, trooper spokesman Steve Wilhelmi said.

All three were experienced climbers. Two of them had past experience climbing in Alaska. The three told the pilot who flew them into the area April 18 that they had researched the mountain in climbing journals and with climbing clubs, and believed that if they succeeded, they would be the first to reach its summit. Apparently they reached their goal and were descending Monday morning when they got caught in an avalanche at the 7,000-foot level.

Their bodies were found at the 5,000 foot level partially buried in snow at the end of an avalanche runout zone. Trooper Chuck Lamica said it was possible they fell off the steep rock face and then were buried by an avalanche, but judging by the number of avalanches in the area—he saw over 30 while flying over the area Tuesday—and the route they took, he believes an avalanche was the most likely possibility.

“You can see the path of the avalanche where they came down,” he said.

The troopers knew the climbers’ whereabouts because the men had been staying in touch by radio with the group of climbers that eventually found their bodies. The two groups didn’t know each other but were dropped into the area around the same time, Wilhelmi said. (From an article in the Anchorage Daily News, April 27,1995, by S. J. Komarnitsky)

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