American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Loss of Control—Voluntary Glissade, Improper Use of Crampons, Washington, Mount Rainier, Inter Glacier

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  • Publication Year: 2006

LOSS OF CONTROL–VOLUNTARY GLISSADE, IMPROPER USE OF CRAMPONS

Washington, Mount Rainier, Inter Glacier

On July 15 at 1348, the communication center notified Camp Schurman that a climber had broken his leg near the bottom of the Inter Glacier. Climbing rangers Chris Olson and Stoney Richards left Camp Schurman at 1415 arriving on scene at approximately 7,400 feet on the Inter Glacier 30 minutes later with a Cascade Litter.

Randy Kruschke (age unknown) had been glissading when his crampon caught an edge causing him to tumble and break his right tibia and fibula. Kruschke’s teammates had already splinted his leg with a foam pad and ski pole and after quick evaluation of the injury, Olson elected not to re-splint the fracture to prevent farther injury or delay. Olson and Richards packaged Kruschke into the litter and with the assistance of Kruschke’s teammates lowered him to the base of the Inter Glacier where he was wheeled down to Glacier Basin. Kruschke was airlifted to the hospital from Glacier Basin Analysis

Crampons are a great tool when on firm snow and ice but quickly become a hazard as the snow warms. Knowing when to use them and when to remove them—and then stopping at the appropriate time to make the change can lead to preventing this kind of accident. Novice climbers often mistakenly assume that they must wear crampons whenever on snow. It is hard to imagine a time when glissading with crampons would ever be considered a good idea.

Kruschke chose to leave his crampons on even though it was late in the day, the snow was soft, and he was glissading. In the classic fashion, when Kruschke picked up speed during his glissade, the rear tines of his right

crampon snagged in the snow. This resulted in snapping the two bones (tib/fib) of his lower leg and throwing his body over his feet, sending him into an uncontrolled tumble. (Source: Mike Gauthier, Climbing Ranger)

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