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Falling Rock, California, Mount Shasta, Avalanche Gulch


California, Mount Shasta, Avalanche Gulch

On July 18, Scott Eisenbarth (25), a guide for Shasta Mountain Guides (SMG), was descending with two clients on the Avalanche Gulch route at 1015 when he was struck on the side of the head by a falling rock. They were at 11,800 feet, and he was aware of the rockfall, having asked the clients to move out of its fall line when he was hit. As he lay unconscious, one of the clients used his radio to call other SMG guides who were at a higher elevation.

The other guides responded and notified Siskiyou County Search and Rescue. As the guides arrived, they did a primary and secondary survey, stabilized and monitored Eisenbarth. Another SMG guide from the West Face route assisted in bringing gear from the USFS rescue cache at 10,400 feet. Eisenbarth was stabilized in the SKED (litter) and lowered 1,000 feet on snow, then carried to an LZ at Lake Helen.

With a clearing of cloud cover at 1415, Siskiyou County Search and Rescue flew in the California Department of Forestry super 205 helicopter to Lake Helen and transported Eisenbarth to Mercy Medical Center, Mount Shasta. He was later transferred to Mercy Medical Center, in Redding, where he was treated for head trauma and a skull fracture. Fortunately, a fall recovery was expected.


Avalanche Gulch is one of the least technical and most popular routes on the mountain, but it also has the highest exposure to rock fall.

Eisenbarth was wearing a helmet, and although he had a side impact around ear level, injuries probably would have been worse without it.

(Source: Eric White, Matt Hill—USFS Climbing Rangers)