American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Climbing Alone—Separated from Party, Failed to Follow Route, No Hard Hat, Oregon, Mount Jefferson, Whitewater Glacier

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2002

FALL ON ROCK, CLIMBING ALONE–SEPARATED FROM PARTY, FAILED TO FOLLOW ROUTE, NO HARD HAT

Oregon, Mount Jefferson, Whitewater Glacier

On June 24, while descending from camp after a weather-shortened climb, Robert Stockhouse (28) decided to descend via a non-standard route rather than remain with his companions who insisted on descending the route they had used to ascend from Jefferson Park to their campsite. His friends were in communication with Stock house via Family Radio Service radios. He reported to be clear of bad terrain and would meet them in the gully the two were descending. They never saw him in the gully, and when they arrived in Jefferson Park, they could not locate him. They assumed he had headed for the car. When he was not found at the car, both companions returned to Jefferson Park and were again unable to locate him. As the weather deteriorated toward nightfall, they returned to the car and drove to a telephone to report Robert Stockhouse missing. The following day, his body was found at the base of a 70-foot cliff band.

Analysis

While he was an experienced mountaineer, Mr. Stockhouse was not wearing a helmet while descending steep, wet rock in unfamiliar terrain. He had taken a rope from his pack to use while descending but was not wearing a harness, so it is not known for sure if he was attempting a body rappel or “fast roping.” The rope was found some distance above the subject, so it appears he may have fallen before rigging the rope to himself or lost his grip on the rope, at which point he fell. Radio communication from him indicated he had successfully negotiated the worst of the terrain, but when his companions failed to meet him, farther radio communication proved fruitless. When found later, his radio was turned off, leading to speculation by his companions that he may have become irritated. (Source: Bob Freund)

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