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Fall on Snow, No Helmet, Climbing Alone — British Columbia, Kootenay National Park, Mount Stanley

FALL ON SNOW, NO HELMET, CLIMBING ALONE

British Columbia, Kootenay National Park, Mount Stanley

On August 6 a climber was reported overdue from a solo attempt on the Kahl route, a popular snow and ice alpine climb. He had been dropped off at 0600 at the trailhead and had been expected back by evening. The Warden Service was contacted at 2030. It is relatively common for climbers to be overdue on this route and usually when parties get benighted, they return by midday the following day. However, since the climber was solo, a search was initiated at first light the following morning. The climber was located in a rock gully below a snow slope on the usual descent route. He had fallen about 200 meters down the snow slope and eventually got hung up halfway down the gully. He died of the injuries sustained during the fall, including serious head lacerations.

Analysis

It appears from the subsequent investigation that the climber tried to selfarrest once he lost his footing. He was wearing crampons and it is possible that snow balled up underneath them, causing them to lose their effectiveness. His skid tracks went over a rock outcrop on the snow slope and he likely lost control of his self-arrest attempt at that point. In addition, he was carrying a technical ice tool which is not well suited for self arrest. Although he fell a considerable distance, a helmet may have reduced his head injuries and perhaps a different outcome may have ensued. (Source: Parks Canada Warden Service)