American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Stranded, Exceeding Abilities, Inadequate Equipment, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak

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

STRANDED, EXCEEDING ABILITIES, INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT

Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak

On July 25, at 0100, David Gallegos and his brother George (26) left from Covenant Height's Camp to climb Kiener's Route (III, AI1, 5.4) on the East Face of Longs Peak. George had climbed the route previously and was to show David the way. They did not have any ropes, ice axes, gloves, or rain gear. Both men were clothed in all cotton, and had strap-on crampons which they wore over cloth boots. After ascending Lambs Slide and crossing Broadway Ledge, George Gallegos became confused and mistook the North Couloir for Kiener's Route. When part way up the North Couloir (AI 3, 5.5), George was unable to continue because of unsteady footing in the snow. The two called for help for about 45 minutes, after which David continued to the top and down the Keyhole Route, where he borrowed a cell phone to call 911. Three climbers and later two RMNP rescue climbers assisted George Gallegos back to the base of the East Face of Longs Peak.

Analysis

The Gallegos brothers had insufficient experience and inadequate equipment for an East Face climb on Longs Peak. Unroped falls from both Kiener's Route and the Notch Couloir have occurred in the past and resulted in fatalities. Unroped falls and ascents without adequate snow/ice equipment have also resulted in injuries and fatalities on Lambs’ Slide. George Gallegos had been rescued previously in a similar incident on Mount Evans. (Source: Jim Detterline, Longs Peak Supervisory Climbing Ranger)

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