American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Exhaustion — Unable to Descend, Dehydration, Exceeding Abilities — Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak

  • Accident Reports
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  • Publication Year: 2000

EXHAUSTION – UNABLE TO DESCEND, DEHYDRATION, EXCEEDING ABILITIES

Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak

On September 1, a Colorado Mountain School guide reported to park rangers that Tim Ashwood (40), a climber with cerebral palsy who had been on the Diamond of Longs Peak for eight days, was ill and would need assistance in descending on the following morning. Ashwood was assisted by partners Jim Thurman and Matt Bliss in jumarring up the Diamond. Park rangers responded on September 2 with a horse to evacuate Ashwood to Longs Peak Trailhead, where he was transported by ambulance to Estes Park Medical Center. Ashwood was suffering from low energy levels, nausea, and dehydration. He was treated with four liters of IV fluid.

Analysis

While Ashwood is to be commended for his perseverance in attempting the realization of his dream—a climb of the Diamond—the nature of his condition and the inability of Ashwood and his partners to manage his energy levels and hydration were the primary causes of this incident. Contributory causes discovered by investigating park rangers included an obsessive desire of Ashwood in wanting to complete this climb at any cost. He had already failed several times. Also, there was commercial interest on the part of Ashwood’s partners, amateur guides intending to profit from the publicity they got for hosting the climb. (Source: Jim Detterline, Longs Peak Ranger)

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