American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Stranded-Off Route, Inadequate Research, Exceeding Abilities, Alberta, Waterton Lakes National Park, Crandell Mountain, Tick Ridge

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2003

STRANDED—OFF ROUTE, INADEQUATE RESEARCH, EXCEEDING ABILITIES

Alberta, Waterton Lakes National Park, Crandell Mountain, Tick Ridge

A group of 25, including five teacher/leaders and 20 grade 10–11 students, were attempting the “moderately-difficult” scramble up Tick Ridge on Crandell Mountain. Several group members and leaders had difficulty with footing and exposure on the ascent. Upon reaching the Cockscomb Ridge, the leader decided to proceed directly down an easier-looking gully heading southwest toward the Cameron Lake Road. They continued downward through progressively steeper third and fourth class terrain until blocked by vertical cliff bands. They decided at this time (early evening) to send one stronger leader back up the mountain to gain cell phone coverage and call for help. The group was able to build a fire in a relatively safe spot, and stayed put for the evening. The stranded party was observed by rescuers just before dark, and as the reporting leader had indicated the party was safe and secure for the night, a dawn helicopter rescue response was planned. The entire party was slung off the mountain in the morning.

Analysis

While not strictly a mountaineering accident, this report demonstrates what happens when inexperienced people venture into mountaineering terrain. The route was beyond the abilities of several members and leaders within this large group, some of whom had no previous experience with exposure in the mountains. As well, the group leader had not been on the route before and had chosen to attempt an unknown descent line. (Source: Parks Canada Warden Service, Brent Kozachenko)

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