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Climber slips on summer snow on Broken Top in Three Sisters Wilderness

The primary purpose of these reports and the Annual Report of Accidents in North American Mountaineering is to aid in the prevention of accidents.
Fall or slip on hard snow, exceeded abilities, inexperience, laceration, concussion, fracture, abrasion

On September 19, 2001, BL was ascending a volcanic talus and scree ridge along a climbers trace when she came to a short steep section of surface softened hard snow near the 9,175’ south summit of Broken Top in the Three sisters Wilderness. She slipped and rocketed about 300 yards down the slope coming to a stop in the rough scree below. Unconscious for about 15 minutes and with a severely injured scalp and nose, she was aided by climber Vince Hudson, a former medic, who described her fall as follows: “Originally she was sliding just flat. Then she went over a rock ledge and started to tumble, head over heals, and started picking up speed. Then she went over another ledge and I could see her head hit it. I couldn’t believe how fast she was going. It was just like you throw a Raggedy Ann doll off a cliff - 60 to 70 mph easy”.

Analysis of Accident: What knowledge and techniques will help prevent future accidents?

Surface softened hard snow slopes have claimed many innocent victims. An ice axe quickly used, could have stopped the initial slide. Modern ultra light ice axes are a good companion on spring hikes and climbs.

Additional Comments

“Had somebody not witnessed her fall, she might not have survived. She might have lain there in the rocks until somebody looked for her,” according Wayne Inman who coordinated the two and a half hour SAR helicopter pick-up following Hudson’s lucky cell phone call. Climbing alone has serious risks, even on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Report filed by Robert Speik and printed in the 53rd edition of ANAM, year 2000
Copyright© 2003 by Robert Speik. All Rights Reserved.


Read more:
American Alpine Club
Oregon Section of the AAC
Accidents in North American Mountaineering