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Slip on Steep Snow, Climbing Alone, Climbing Unroped, Inadequate Equipment/Clothing, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak

SLIP ON STEEP SNOW, CLIMBING ALONE, CLIMBING UNROPED, INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT/CLOTHING

Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), Longs Peak

On July 22 at about 1300 hours a 68 year-old solo climber notified RMNP Dispatch that he had taken a 30-foot fall on steep snow at the junction of Lambslide Couloir and Broadway and had injured his shoulder while self-arresting. He was able to make it to a rock ledge on Broadway but was unable to continue or descend. He said that prior to the fall he noticed that his crampon was loose but that he thought he could make it to the ledge for readjustment.

Rangers responded and assisted him via simul-rappel and then out to the trailhead by rangers and horse.

Analysis

The climber’s gear was made in the early ‘70s and included a long wood ice ax and crampons with leather straps that were difficult to adjust. In addition, the climber did not have sufficient bivouac gear. If rescue had not come quickly or inclement weather occurred the outcome may have been different.

Cell phone coverage is spotty at best in the mountains. The day before the climb, the man purchased a cell phone from a carrier that is known to have significantly better coverage in the area. Without the phone, it may have been days before he was located because he neglected to leave details of his trip with anyone.

Several weeks prior to this incident, this same climber was rescued by rangers after injuring his ankle in what was described as a “training” ascent of Mount Lady Washington. (Source: RMNP Search and Rescue)