American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Stranded, Late Start — Benighted, Inadequate Clothing and Equipment, Weather, Alberta, Canadian Rockies, Mount Norquay

  • Accident Reports
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  • Publication Year: 2010

STRANDED, LATE START – BENIGHTED, INADEQUATE CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT, WEATHER

Alberta, Canadian Rockies, Mount Norquay

On October 24, two scramblers started up a difficult scramble on Mount Norquay in Banff National Park at 1300. They reached the ridge top from the ski hill late in the day. The weather had changed from overcast to overcast and snowing lightly. By the time they had descended to the lower crux of the route, they were benighted and conditions had become very slippery with the new snow. They decided to stay put, as they thought they might slip and fall. Their cellphone was low on batteries so they were only able to text message. Their text to a friend at around midnight was, “Ten minutes from car on Norquay and needed help.” Then another text that said, “Too icy, sleeping on mtn”. The friend called the RCMP who eventually got in contact with Parks dispatch. A Parks Mountain Rescue Specialist was able to climb up in the dark and short rope the two down via easier terrain.

Analysis

The two started late, were not prepared for the length of the route nor were they equipped for the change in weather. They carried no rope or equipment that would have made the descent safe and possible. (Source: Brad White, Banff National Park Mountain Safety Specialist)

(Canadian Editor’s Note: Another example of scramblers moving into technical terrain and requiring assistance. Banff National Park also reported one accident where a climber was bouldering on a small fridge sized rock that rolled over and crushed the climbers ankle, which required a heli-evacuation.)

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