American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Slide into Steam Vent, Washington, Mount Rainier

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2010

SLIDE INTO STEAM VENT

Washington, Mount Rainier

On May 24th, a climbing guide (age unknown) near the summit of Mount Rainier slid into a steam vent and fell 15 to 20 feet. Climbers with her reported that she had injured ribs on her left side, was experiencing difficulty breathing, and had a reduced level of consciousness. Ranger Chris Olson and two employees from one of the park’s guide concessionaires headed out from Camp Muir with a litter and gear for a technical lowering. Rangers David Gottlieb and Jeremy Shank departed Camp Schurman with an oxygen kit. Rangers Philippe Wheelock and Rachel Mueller, having just climbed Fuhrer’s Finger, were also directed to the scene.

Her partners, who were part of a commercially guided climb, extricated the climber from the vent. Her injuries turned out to be less severe than first reported. Northwest Helicopters, from Olympia, Washington, provided an MD-530 helicopter, which picked up ranger Phil Edmonds at the park’s heli-base with a medical kit and took him to the summit, where they were able to land on the crater rim. The climber was then flown off the mountain and transferred to an ambulance for transport to the hospital. (Source: NPS Morning Report)

Analysis

This is an interesting incident because it suggests snow conditions that may have hidden the vent. There have been very few mishaps of this kind reported. Also of note is that this may have been the first time a helicopter has landed on the summit, according to Ranger Stefan Lofgren in his Annual Report. (Source: Jed Williamson)

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