American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Ice, Alberta, Banff National Park, Cascade Mountain, Cascade Waterfall

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2005

FALL ON ICE

Alberta-, Banff National Park, Cascade Mountain, Cascade Waterfall

On January 3, a party of two was climbing on Cascade Waterfall (300 m. Ill WI3). Sometime between 1500 and 1600, the victim was leading final moves of the last pitch when he fell, injuring his ankles. His partner lowered him to the belay and they decided to retrieve ice screws before starting the descent. Some time was spent retrieving gear and the lowering out was slow. About 1800, the party used their cell phone to call one of their wives, who in turn contacted Warden Dispatch. A warden rescue party climbed to where patient was located below the first set of anchors. The preliminary survey indicated injury to the right ankle, but the patient was comfortable enough to continue with lowering out. Wardens set up a first lower of 100 metres, to the second rescue party, then a second lower of 150 metres to the base of the climb. The patient was loaded into the wheeled stretcher and wheeled to his personal vehicle. His climbing partner drove him to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a hairline fracture of his talus. The rescue was done at night with air temp at –32 EC. The moonlight was a big help.

Analysis

Lead falls while ice climbing often result in fractures to the lower limbs. In cold weather when the days are short, it is important to start early in the day so that there is some spare daylight in case something doesn’t go well. The party may have underestimated the time that a series of lowers would require. (Source: Bradford White, Banff National Park Warden Service)

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