American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Hiker Disappeared, Oregon, Broken Top

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

HIKER DISAPPEARED

Oregon, Broken Top

On August 10, Danny Curran (24) left his younger brother at their Green Lakes pack-in campsite late in the day, saying he was going to climb Broken Top, the snow capped mountain summit just one and a half miles due east. The elevation gain is 2,670 feet, over friable volcanic rock, snow, and ice.

Several climbers’ trails lead to the prominent north west ridge, which in turn leads to a very exposed summit block with a 1,000-foot drop to the Crook Glacier. Permanent snow fields and the Bend Glacier buttress the north side of this summit ridge. At the end of the summer, the snow fields and glacier ice had pulled back from the rock of the knife edged ridge leaving crevasses and bergschrunds of great depth.

Search and Rescue teams and local climbers searched for Danny Curran until November 18, when the weather deteriorated and more snow began to fall. Analysis

Danny Curran had little mountaineering experience. He was dressed in blue jeans, a black down jacket, hiking boots, a knit cap and gloves. He had no pack with back-up gear, even though he was climbing late in the afternoon in weather that dropped below freezing at night. The five-inch snow pack of the previous week had turned to two inches of hard snow, making footing treacherous.

The obvious recommendation is that it is best to climb with others. If people choose to go alone, they should learn to be prepared. “A lot of people hike alone,” said SAR spokesman Chris Nolte. “We were up at the trail-head today, and it was raining, and we watched people heading up there solo or in pairs, wearing fleece and blue jeans—not prepared. It just doesn’t make sense to me.” (Source: Robert Speik and Jeff Scheetz)

(Editor's Note: On June 17, Corwin Osborne, an older and more experienced climber.; also disappeared in the Three Sisters Wilderness, prompting a search that ultimately involved about 250people, 28 agencies, and more than 6,000 hours. Corwin Osborne, a Washington resident, without ice ax or crampons, had planned to traverse the summits of South, Middle, and North Sister—an elevation gain of more than 10,000 feet, and hike almost 40 miles across country in one day.

Again, we present these cases of hikers who get into mountaineering situations in the hope that there will be some educational value.)

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