American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Falling Rock, Alberta, Jasper National Park, Mount Fryatt

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2004

FALLING ROCK

Alberta, Jasper National Park, Mount Fryatt

In the early morning of August 29, a party of four left their bivouac site in the Geraldine Lakes drainage to climb the southwest face of Mount Fryatt (3661 meters). The night had been clear and there was a frost in the alpine which had coated the rocks making them slippery. At 1400 they stopped at approximately 3,140 meters to put their crampons on in order to cross a small section of snow and ice. As they were putting on their crampons, rockfall from the terrain above struck R.S. on the back of the helmet. She was knocked unconscious with enough force to crack her helmet and lacerate her scalp. The terrain at their position on the upper part of the southwest face was low fourth class with few sheltered locations.

The group secured J.S. and compressed the wound on her head while she regained consciousness. Then they contacted the Jasper National Park Warden Service with a satellite phone. J.S. was heli-slung off the mountain beneath a helicopter at 1650. She was transferred to an ambulance at the road and driven to the Jasper hospital. By 1715 the rest of the party had been heli-slung from the face to the advanced staging area and then inside a helicopter to the road.

Analysis

Rock fall is a common danger on the big face routes of the Rockies and is often more common in alpine terrain during the hotter part of the day. The route was bathed in sunlight when the rock fall occurred. It may have been prudent for the group to have set themselves a turn-around time earlier in the day so that they could have been well away from the face at the time the rock fall occurred.

The group appeared to be experienced and well prepared. Having a satellite phone in their possession greatly expedited their evacuation. (Source: Parks Canada Warden Service, Jim Mamalis)

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