American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

California, Yosemite Naitonal Park, Unicorn Park

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1965

California, Yosemite National Park, Unicorn Peak. On 21 July Tom Luden (16) and a companion had completed short rock climbing routes on Unicorn Peak and Northeast side of Echo Ridge to its summit. The two boys then attempted a high traverse of the North face of Echo Ridge. They carried ropes, but did not find the going difficult except for an occasional hold or two, so they did not rope together. On traversing a high degree snow slope into which they punched foot holds, Luden’s footing gave way and he slid rapidly down the slope, hitting rock islands protruding through the snow surface and was turned end over end in somersaults before he could get into a control-slide position or check his speed with his ice axe, which he lost, along with his watch during the slide. Luden rolled and tumbled over three rock areas in the snow before hitting the bottom edge of the snow and stopping. He was helped off the mountain by campers at the lake below who heard the two boys’ shouts for aid.

Source: Eugene Hempel; Park Ranger.

Analysis: Climbing party probably too small for safety. Ropes should be used where there is danger, even though the danger exists for only a few moments or at only a few parts of the climb.

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