American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Snow—Unable to Self-Arrest, Faulty Use of Crampons, Colorado, Indian Peaks Wilderness

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  • Publication Year: 2005

FALL ON SNOW—UNABLE TO SELF-ARREST, FAULTY USE OF CRAMPONS Colorado, Indian Peaks Wilderness

On June 12, Mark Oveson (36) was traversing the snowfields between North Arapaho Peak and “Deshawa Peak” (point 12,800’ on the USGS map) when he slipped. He tried to self-arrest, but lost his ice ax. He then tried to stop his slide with his feet. He was wearing crampons. One caught his leg, but he did not feel anything until he stood up at the end of his run. He had fractured his fibula and a bone in his ankle.

Analysis

Traversing across the top of the snowfield was tedious. At the time of my fall, I was wishing that we were at the bottom of the snowfield so that we could walk on relatively flat snow to our objective. I knew the runout was safe, so I was being careless in my steps. I should have either taken off my crampons and slid to the bottom or used caution to avoid falling. I now know that any fall while wearing crampons is serious.

Also, my ice ax was not tethered to my wrist. This was a careless oversight. If I had fallen where the runout was not safe, it could have been a tragic error. (Source: Mark Oveson)

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