American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Snow — Unable to Self Arrest, Climbing Unroped, No Hard Hat, Montana, Glacier National Park, Rainbow Peak

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

FALL ON SNOW—UNABLE TO SELF ARREST, CLIMBING UNROPED, NO HARD HAT

Montana, Glacier National park, Rainbow Peak

On July 3, Mark Robison (24) and Christopher Foster (23) fell 2000 feet to their deaths. They had nearly summitted Rainbow Peak when the lead climber apparently lost his footing, taking the second climber down with him as he fell out of control down the narrow, rock-filled snow/ice couloir. The slope of this couloir is approximately 60 degrees.

Analysis

It took some time to find these overdue climbers, who were known to the rangers because they worked on the trail crew. Robison and Foster were very fit and experienced and prepared for the route they had elected. They had previously accomplished such feats as a fifty mile “day hike.” The route they had chosen was a long one, which is perhaps why they chose not to rope up. Neither climber was wearing a helmet, and no fixed protection was used. There was not enough evidence to indicate exactly what happened to initiate the fall, nor to indicate which of the two was in the lead. (Source: Scott Emmerich, Supervisory Resource Management Ranger)

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