Logo Jim Frankenfield
jim@mountain-guiding.com; 1-877-604-0166

Mountain Guiding; Mountain Safety
An Experienced Professional

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Guiding Newsletter

Accident Analysis Archive - June 2001


Over Memorial Day weekend there were some climbers rescued from Liberty Ridge on Mt Rainier. There are two things worth mentioning about this incident, both related to planning.

The Park Service conditions report on their website indicated that the route had been subject to major rockfall recently, including injuries and also tents being hit. They explicitly stated that climbing the route at the time "puts climbing above personal safety". A pretty strong statement. Given that this information was available up front one has to wonder why anyone would attempt the route at the time. (The incident was apparently a small avalanche and not rockfall, but the question looms regardless.) While this route information was on the web it isn't clear whether climbers registering to climb were informed of this or not or, and if so whether the statement was so strongly worded.

The second planning issue was that poor weather was forecast for later in the weekend, and indeed this impacted the rescue efforts. Park rangers were dropped on the summit by helicopter and descended to help the climbers up to the summit (or at least Liberty Cap). But the rangers and climbers could not be picked up for a couple days because the weather prohibited flying up there. When a storm is in the forecast climbers should consider the implications it may have should they climb slower than planned or have a problem. A few years ago in October a couple University of Oregon students died on North Sister as an early winter storm moved in. The storm effectively eliminated any chance of a rescue.


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