American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Slip on Snow, Inadequate Equipment, and Descending Unroped – British Columbia, Mt. Assiniboine Park, Mt. Assiniboine

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1978

SLIP ON SNOW, INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT, AND DESCENDING UNROPED—British Columbia, Mt. Assiniboine Park, Mt. Assiniboine. Mike Walsh and Barbara Coffman (30) had spent a few days at the Hind Hut and had just started to descend, unroped, the snow chute on the headwall above Megog Lake on July 2 at 7:30 a.m. Coffman was feeling out of sorts and, perhaps because of this, she slipped when a snow step failed. On her first try to self-arrest, the ring holding her wrist strap to the ice axe broke and she lost the axe. She slid and tumbled about 1000 vertical feet to the bottom of the chute, bouncing over some rock outcrops on the way. She had a bruised and bleeding face, bruised body, and loosened teeth. She walked to Assiniboine Lodge, where first aid was administered, and was evacuated shortly afterwards by helicopter, which was paid for by the parks. (Source: B. Coffman and Ken Erdman.)

Analysis: The faulty ice axe was rented from a shop in Banff, and directly contributed to the accident. The snow was cold and hard, and steep enough that a rope should have been used. At press time there was no information on what caused the ice axe ring to fail. (Source: B. Coffman and Ken Erdman.)

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