American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Avalanche, Fall on Ice, Inadequate Protection, British Columbia, Rocky Mountains, Mount Dennis

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1999

AVALANCHE, FALL ON ICE, INADEQUATE PROTECTION

British Columbia, Rocky Mountains, Mount Dennis

On March 14, a party of three were climbing Guiness Gully (III, 4), a moderate ice route. The leader had completed the second pitch when a wet avalanche came down the gully. He had 50 meters of rope between him and the other two climbers at the belay below. The other two climbers had another 50 meters of rope stacked between them. None of the three climbers was clipped in to anchors. The upper climber managed to hug a tree at his belay and was not swept down. The two lower climbers were swept down with one of them ending up at the bottom of the first pitch, sustaining a forearm fracture and leg lacerations.

Warden service rescuers nearby witnessed the accident. Two rescuers ran up the approach to assess and treat the injured climber. The injured climber was heli-slung to a waiting ambulance shortly afterwards. The other two climbers, as well as other climbers on nearby routes, were evacuated by heli-sling, as well as other climbers on nearby routes due to the extreme avalanche hazard.

Analysis

As with many waterfall ice routes in the Rockies, avalanche hazard is a constant concern. When climbers left the parking area that morning, it was raining lightly. Unfortunately most of them did not see that as an indication of rapidly increasing avalanche hazard. (Source: Parks Canada Warden Service)

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