American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Overdue, Various Falls on Rock, Inadequate Equipment, Party Separated, Inexperience, California, Mount Shasta, Mud Creek Canyon

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2008

OVERDUE, VARIOUS FALLS ON ROCK, INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT, PARTY SEPARATED, INEXPERIENCE

California, Mount Shasta, Mud Creek Canyon

On June 24 at 1800, the Siskiyou County SAR was notified of a missing 25- year-old female. She had left her partner at 13,600 feet and continued to the summit alone. He waited for her to return but she did not. He became cold enough that he decided to descend and wait for her at Lake Helen. When she still didn’t return, he called 911. A California Highway Patrol (CHP) helicopter was used at last light to search for her and was unsuccessful. Due to low light they terminated the air search. USFS Climbing Rangers hiked up from the trailhead in the dark to search for her and other Climbing Rangers searched other likely trailheads on the southeast and east side of the mountain where missing Avalanche Gulch climbers often end up. All Climbing Rangers finished their searches at 0130 on June 25. At 0630, the search continued with the CHP helicopter, USFS Climbing Rangers and Siskiyou County SAR. At 0830 a call was received from a logging camp on the southeast side of the mountain where the missing climber had arrived.

She was interviewed in the hospital. She said that she had reached the summit, made contact with one of the USFS Climbing Rangers and then descended off-route onto the Konwakiton Glacier and below into the steep cliff section in Mud Creek Canyon. She fell several times while descending, receiving multiple bruises and a fractured left arm. She continued down to the lower falls and then climbed out of Mud Creek Canyon and huddled next to a log for the night. The next morning she continued descending until she hit a logging road and later found the logging camp.

Analysis

She had climbed Mount Shasta once before but had no other mountaineering experience. She had no helmet, no ice ax, and no crampons—only “yak trax” on lightweight boots. (Source: Eric White, Climbing Ranger/ Avalanche Specialist)

(Editor’s Note: This is one of many cases we see each year in which a hiker finds him or herself in a climbing situation. We do not count these as climbing accidents.)

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