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Fall on Rock, Wrong Type of Boots, No Spotter, Washington, Washington Pass, Liberty Bell

FALL ON ROCK, WRONG TYPE OF BOOTS, NO SPOTTER

Washington, Washington Pass, Liberty Bell

I have been climbing since the early 1950s and still get out to unexplored areas these days. After climbing in an untouched area of the Pantheons in the BC Coast Range, Mickey Schurr and I headed off to do some classic climbs in the Cascades. There I came-a-cropper for the first time.

Before noon on August 5, Mickey and I began hiking up the Blue Lake trail at Washington Pass. We reached the final 5.7 slab pitch of the Beckey Route on Liberty Bell between three and four o’clock. This pitch is short and is usually done without placing protection. Three-quarters of the way up I slipped, injuring my right ankle. The summit was near and Mickey led the pitch wearing his kletterschuhe. I followed, but a clap of thunder and raindrops after I reached the top of the slab showed that thunderstorms from the east were on us, so we retreated. Discomfort was OK, but lightning danger wasn’t. A short rappel carried us below the slab and two single-rope rappels took us to the notch.

My descent was slow, but we reached the trail before dark. Mickey was a steady and helpful companion, and I picked up my trekking poles where I stashed them in a meadow, but even so, it was eleven o’clock before we reached the parking lot. There was light rain and distant thunder for most of the return. We drove to Seattle the next day, after spending the night at the Colonial Creek Campground. The emergency room at Northwest Hospital diagnosed a broken right medial malleolus, skillfully set by Herbert Clark, MD, using four screws.

Analysis

Wearing kletterschuhe rather than boots, better technique, and having Mickey spot me while making the move would have avoided this unpleasantness. I have often wondered, “What would happen if I were to fall here?” when I was in some unprotected spot. I conclude that it is better that you should never have occasion to find the answer to this question. (Source: Former AAC Safety Committee member, Peter Renz)