American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall from a Snow-Covered Boulder, Washington, North Cascades, National Park, Eldorado Peak

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2009

FALL FROM A SNOW-COVERED BOULDER

Washington, North Cascades National Park, Eldorado Peak

On July 18th, a party of four mountaineers were on approach to Eldorado Peak on the lower snow slopes of the Eldorado Glacier. While pausing on the upper side of a large rock outcrop, three of the men noticed that the fourth, Bill Stikker (57) had disappeared. They did not see him fall, but quickly found him unconscious at the base of the short rock cliff, an approximate 25-foot fall. The injured mountaineer was in good company, as two of his party are ER physicians and the third made impressive time descending the nearly 5000 feet to the road and driving to the ranger station in Marblemount to request help.

Further good fortune persisted as the NPS’ contracted SAR helicopter happened to be at the ranger station and despite notification coming late in the day about this accident, rangers departed within the hour. Stikker was still unconscious and deteriorating. He was helicopter short-hauled from the accident site to a lower flat spot in Roush Creek basin, suitable for an Airlift NW medical helicopter to land. Rangers transferred him to flight medics who departed en route to Harborview Trauma Center, Seattle, just before dark. Mr. Stikker spent two weeks in the Neuro-ICU and an additional four weeks in hospital recovery before beginning outpatient therapy.

Analysis

It is unknown how or why this climber fell from the snow-covered rock bluff that his partners had chosen as actually a good, safe spot to take a short rest stop. Again, the steep approaches to the routes of Cascade peaks can be the trouble spots. (Source: Kelly Bush, Wilderness District Ranger, North Cascades National Park)

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