American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Faulty Use of Crampons and Loss of Control—Voluntary Glissade, Inadequate Equipment—No Ice Ax, New Hampshire, Mountain Washington, Tuckerman Ravine Trail

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

FAULTY USE OF CRAMPONS and LOSS OF CONTROL—VOLUNTARY GLISSADE, INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT—NO ICE AX

New Hampshire, Mount Washington, Tuckerman Ravine Trail

On December 30 there were two separate accidents involving sliding with crampons. In the first incident, a party of two was descending the Summit Cone by glissading with crampons on their feet. One of the climbers snagged his crampon and broke his ankle. Other climbers on the scene aided his continued descent down the Lions Head trail. In the second accident, a party of two climbing the summit cone had crampons on their feet and no ice axes. One tripped and with no ax to self arrest with, slid 300 feet into a rock outcrop badly dislocating his ankle in the process. Local Mountain Rescue Service member Brad White was nearby and assisted in the rescue using his ax as a splint. With a litter from the Mount. Washington Observatory on the summit, he was carried down Lion Head Trail.

Analysis

Snowstorms this winter had been ending as wet snow or rain followed by coldair. This makes for very icy conditions on Mount. Washington. The first incident is an example of why a climber should not glissade with crampons on. Having an ice ax in hand and knowing how to self-arrest with it could have prevented the second accident. (Source: Brad White, Mountain Rescue Service)

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