American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Montana, Glacier National Park, Gendarme

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

FALL ON ROCK

Montana, Glacier National Park, Gendarme

On July 3, rangers from Glacier National Park and wardens from Canada’s Banff National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park cooperated in the rescue of an injured climber. The climber, Denis Twohig (68) from White- fish, had taken a 15-foot pendulum fall while leading a technical rock climb on the “Gendarme” late on the afternoon of July 2nd. His climbing partner stopped Twohig’s fall.

The uninjured partner lowered Twohig a short distance to a ledge and secured him. He then left Twohig and descended Little Chief Mountain, reaching the Rising Sun Lodge store about 11:00 p.m. He reported the accident to Glacier dispatch. Recognizing the extreme technical nature of the incident and Twohig’s emergency medical needs, rangers held search and rescue planning sessions through the early morning hours to coordinate different rescue options.

After a reconnaissance flight and a briefing by Glacier park rangers, two Canadian park wardens were each inserted via short haul from a Parks Canada helicopter to Twohig’s location in the notch of the Gendarme. After Twohig was secured, he was short hauled from the ledge, then transferred to ALERT air ambulance and flown to Kalispell Regional Hospital around 9 a.m. Parks Canada utilizes highly trained helicopter pilots and park wardens for technical SAR missions throughout the mountain parks of Canada. Their assistance was critical as they provided the most viable option for Twohig’s immediate rescue.

Analysis

This rescue is an excellent example of the outstanding relationship and true partnership between Parks Canada and the National Park Service at Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. This relationship is well documented by the Peace Park agreement and is cultivated by frequent contact and cooperation between the two park staffs. Waterton-Glacier is the world’s first International Peace Park, and 2007 is the 75th anniversary of the Peace Park designation. (Source: Melissa Wilson, Public Affairs Officer)

(Editor’s Note: This report is included primarily because of the admirable international cooperation noted in the analysis.)

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