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Fall Into River, British Columbia, Jasper National Park, North Boundary Trail Hike

FALL INTO RIVER

British Columbia, Jasper National Park, North Boundary Trail Hike

D.H. and S.K. (from Germany) were hiking the north boundary trail of Jasper National Park. The summer had been extremely rainy and the rivers were all in flood. On July 12, they had crossed over Snake Indian Pass and were heading down valley to a campsite on the shores of Twintree Creek. The campsite was flooded due to high water levels in the creek. Normally this creek can be crossed with high gumboots, but at this time, the water was very high and fast. A foot bridge, consisting of two stringers, was in place to cross the creek, but water was overlapping the bridge. Deciding to push on to the next campsite, S.K. started to cross the bridge by straddling it, and shuffling across it. Once across, D.H. started across using the same technique. Both women were carrying heavy packs with waist straps done up.

Midway across, D.H. got stuck on a knot on one of the logs, and could not proceed.

With cold water lapping up to her waist, she soon lost strength and let go, falling into the creek. She floated down a short way, and was able to grab onto a sweeper, but again lost her grip, and was carried down stream. Meanwhile, S.K. attempted to help her, but eventually lost sight of her. She combed the shore for two hours, then proceeded to hike out for help. It took her two days to reach Mount Robson Park ranger station, (very good time) where she reported the incident. Park wardens from Jasper were notified at 1700 on July 14, and flew in to search the area for D.H. They were unable to find the body that night, but the following day, the body was located in a log jam about 70 meters downstream of the footbridge.

Analysis

Although not a climbing incident per se, this episode is included here because climbers often have to approach their objectives by crossing streams, and can treat these crossings as minor, rather than serious, obstacles. Although this creek in this incident is usually very benign, flooding from a month of heavy rain caused it to become a wild torrent. Even though it was late in the afternoon, D.H. and S.K. felt obliged to push on to the next campsite, as the upper campsite was flooded. Had they either made do in the wet campsite and tried crossing the bridge in the morning when the water level was lower, or at least undone the waist bands on their packs, this incident may have been avoided. (Source: Parks Canada Warden Service)