American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Slip on Ice, Faulty Use of Crampons, Climbing Unroped, Alberta, Smith-Dorrien Valley, French Creek

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1998


On November 20, L.S. (24) and a partner climbed an ice flow above French Creek on the east flank of Mount Burstall, about thirty minutes from the trailhead, and then proceeded to descend shortly before 1300.

While rappelling from the top to an icy ledge, one of L.S.'s crampons came off. Once on the ledge, the climbers decided to traverse and then scramble down rocks to the start of the climb. L.S. removed his other crampon and then started across the ledge, but slipped on the ice and tumbled about 15 meters down a low-angled part of the first pitch before free-falling another five meters to the base. He suffered a bad cut of the upper lip and teeth, complained of a sore right ankle, lower back, and neck, and could not remember falling, so he may have sustained a concussion as well, although his helmet stayed on.

L.S. tried to leave the area, but his pain was too great, even with help, so his companion went out to the road and flagged down Ranger Scott in the Chester Lake parking lot to ask for help in evacuating Lee. Authorities requested a helicopter, and the victim was fitted with a C- collar, then lifted by sling in a scoop stretcher and Baumann Bag to a road ambulance at 1630. He was treated by paramedics, then taken to Canmore Hospital. (Source: Kananaskis Country Alpine Specialist)


It may have served the victim better to keep his remaining crampon on; the ice on the ledge proved to be far more slippery than anticipated. (Source: Geoff Powter)

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