American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Ice, British Columbia, Mount Dennis, Guinness Gully

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2006

FALL ON ICE

British Columbia, Mount Dennis, Guinness Gully

On December 2, a 35-year-old doctor from the Seattle, WA, area was descending from the route Guinness Gully on Mount Dennis near Field, B.C. when he tripped and fell 20 feet. They’d finished the climb and they were descending the same way by rappelling the ice climbing pitches. They’d rappelled the first pitch and were walking down some lower angle terrain to the next rappel when one in the party tripped and fell over about a 20- foot cliff. While one of the man’s climbing partners stayed with him trying to keep him warm, a third climber rappelled to the road where he flagged down a tow truck driver, who called in the rescue.

Waning light made it impossible for the patient to be heli-slung from the site, forcing rescuers to climb the waterfall in the dark, hauling rope rescue gear with them up the frozen waterfall. The patient was immobilized on a vacuum mattress and lowered from the route in temperatures that dropped to -15 C.

He was taken to Banff Mineral Springs Hospital before being sent on to Foothills Hospital in Calgary. He suffered four fractures in his cervical and thoracic vertebrae, broken ribs, and a broken arm.

Analysis

It’s not uncommon for accidents to happen on low-angle terrain when one’s guard is down. Even a slight lapse of attention in steeper terrain can have consequences. We’ve all tripped at one time or another. (Source: Brad White, Public Service Warden Banff National Park, Dave Stephens, and Amanda Follett, Banff Crag & Canyon)

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