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Fall on Snow, Failure to Follow Route, Inadequate Equipment, Exceeding Abilities, Oregon, Three-Fingered Jack, South Ridge


Oregon, Three-Fingered Jack, South Ridge

On October 26, Karl Iwen (20s) fell to his death while descending Three-Fingered Jack.

As he was unfamiliar with the mountain, Karl asked to join two climbers he met at the trailhead. They completed the “technical” part of the climb (ascending and descending) then unroped to hike out. There was a patch of snow covering rock west of the climber's trail, and Karl ventured out onto this snow He slipped and could not stop his fall. The other two climbers watched Karl, but were unable to help him. He carried an ice ax, but it was strapped to his pack at the time of the fall. He slid into a couloir and dropped about 600 feet in a tumbling fall.


Karl was not familiar with the mountain and the route, but left his companions and did not follow the climber's trail off the mountain. Also, venturing out onto snow above the west face of the mountain with his ice ax strapped to his pack showed a lack of awareness of the dangers he faced in this alpine environment. Karl had just moved to Oregon from the Midwest. (Source: Jeff Sheetz, Portland Mountain Rescue)

(Editor's Note: The other three accidents from Oregon included AMS brought on by fatigue, occurring at the 11,000 foot level on Mount Hood; a fractured ankle incurred upon jumping over a crevasse on Mount Hood; and a fractured heel after a 15 foot fall on Mount Washington's West Ridge. There was a telemark skiing injury below Crater Rock on Mount Hood. He fell several times, ultimately attributing this to having his skis on the wrong feet!)