American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Snow , Climbing Alone, Washington, Mount Adams

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

FALL ON SNOW, CLIMBING ALONE

Washington, Mount Adams

On October 18, Derek Mamoyac (27) fell as he was descending after reaching Piker’s Peak at 11,657 feet, below the mountain’s summit. He stepped in some snow he thought was solid, but it gave way.

Mamoyac started up the 12,277-foot mountain Sunday for a one-day climb. Family members reported him missing Monday when he failed to show up for work.

After a five-day search, he was located just below the 6,000-foot level. He was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Portland. He was listed in fair condition. In addition to his fractured ankle, he was dehydrated and had swollen legs. He told rescuers he ate centipedes and drank water from creeks as he tried to crawl to safety.

Analysis

Jill Bartlett and other rescuers spoke glowingly of Mamoyac after he was found alive after five frigid days and nights on the mountain. “He was in very good shape for what he went through,” she told The Oregonian. As she and several other rescuers waited with him before he was flown from the mountain, he told them he ate centipedes and other bugs after running out of food early in the week. He drank water from creeks.

He was wearing water-resistant pants, insulated boots and gloves, but was still very cold. “We put all our coats on him, but he was still shivering,” Bartlett said. “We asked him, ‘Are you warm?’ and he said, ‘Yeah.’”

He spent nearly four days crawling and dragging his feet through the snow. When his knees hurt too much to crawl, he said he would turn around and scoot backward.

“We get happy endings, but not at the end of a five-day search,” rescuer Varney said. (Source: From an Associated Press posting.)

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