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Fall on Ice, Protection Failure—Ice Ax Tool, Alberta, Banff National Park, Wicked Wanda


Alberta, Banff National Park, Wicked Wanda

F.B. (32) was leading the crux pitch of this water ice Grade 4+ route on February 2. He was about three meters above an ice mushroom around which he had tied a sling. His ice tool unexpectedly popped out of the ice, causing a large piece of ice to fall on the ice mushroom with the sling, breaking the mushroom off. The screw he had placed six meters below the ice mushroom held his fall. Although this was in a relatively remote area, another climber was able to call for help on his cell phone. Because of gusty winds, the Warden Service rescue crew could only be inserted below the victim by heli-sling. The crew walked up to the site and the victim was lowered and carried down to a suitable landing area. He was then evacuated to the Banff Hospital. F.B. sustained injuries to his ankle and elbow and facial lacerations.


Ice tool placement can be unreliable at times. It is unclear if the slung mushroom would have held his fall if the large piece of ice had not broken it off. (Source: Parks Canada Warden Service)