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Fall on Rock, Inadequate Protection, Oregon, Mount Washington, West Face

FALL ON ROCK, INADEQUATE PROTECTION

Oregon, Mount Washington, West Face

On Thursday, July 29, Thomas Siefert (46) and Gary Gentz (50) were making their first attempt at climbing the West Face of Mount Washington in the Oregon Cascades. Oregon High, a 1991 climbing guide for the Oregon Cascades by Jeff Thomas, details several west side routes to the summit at 7,794 feet. The two men were reported overdue and a Search and Rescue action was initiated. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Camp Sherman Hasty Team reached the site on Saturday morning and confirmed their deaths from a mountain climbing accident.

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Sargent Mark Foster conducted an investigation on the scene and filed a report of several pages with photographs of the site. The details of that report are included herein. Initial news stories of the accident referred to equipment failure perhaps mid-way up the face leading to local speculation about the quality of the rock on the West Face.

Evidence found at the scene indicates that the two men fell from near the top of the face, about 400 vertical feet. There was no gear on the rope, indicating it was not anchored to the rock at the time of the fall. One climber may have been working with his gear at the time he fell, based on an unlocked carabiner on his harness and loose gear—an older model belay plate and a runner with two carabiners, at an initial impact point. Based on the position of the rope at the scene, one man fell first and when the rope played out, he pulled the other climber off the cliff.

It is not known whether Mr. Siefert and Mr. Gentz were ascending or descending at the time of the accident. (Source: Robert Speik)