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Three Fingered Jack - Slip on rock while descending

The primary purpose of these experience reports and the Annual Report of Accidents in North American Mountaineering is to aid in the prevention of accidents.

Oregon Cascades, Three-Fingered Jack in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness - South Ridge 

On August 5, 1994, three of us (Katie, Lyn, and myself) hiked into Summit Lake off the Pacific Crest Trail to set up camp. On Saturday morning we hiked up to the mountain via the east side, stopping to put on our helmets at the beginning of the rocky ridge. We continued up and left our packs at the start of the horizontal traverse known as "The Crawl" and had planned to have lunch upon returning. After reaching the summit around 1300, we started to make our way down. Lyn Marx (40) wanted to lead "The Crawl" on the way down. We set up a tensionless anchor on a rock that was approximately 20 30 feet from the beginning of The Crawl. Shortly after Lyn disappeared around the corner, she screamed and the rope began to go taut. I put on the brake with the right hand and then tried to grab slack with my left Hand since I had been letting out slack so she wouldn't have to pull on the rope. The slack I had grabbed with my left hand pulled through my hand, burning my fingers. We then saw Lyn at the edge of the ledge below; she was lying motionless.

We called to her but there was no response. Approximately two minutes later, she began to moan I tied her off on the anchor and tried to get down to her by rappelling off the center loop of the rope; however, it did not reach her. I did not want to go on her rope since it was far away from the cliff face and also would have pulled on her. I finally figured out that I could rappel on the loop and transfer to her rope using a prussic. That worked and I was able to reach her. By that time she was sitting up and I did an examination of the head wound below her helmet, eyes, breathing, alertness, and other possible injuries. There was nothing that appeared to be broken or bleeding profusely. Since she was at the edge of the ledge, I wanted to get her in a more secure position for the safety of us both. I got behind her and lifted her under her armpits and moved her to the base of the rock so that she was sitting partially supported.

After stabilizing her at the base of the rock, I climbed up the face and onto The Crawl. Using webbing clipped into the piton and a prussic on the slope, I made a directional from the piton, so that the rope went along The Crawl and down to Lyn. By that time Lyn was trying to remove her harness and untie the rope. Katie then came over quickly along the fixed rope and went down to Lyn. I ran for help. I encountered a hiker approximately two miles down the PCT and told him what happened and to call 911. 1 then ran back up the mountain and went down to the ledge around 1600. Katie informed me that Lyn bad continued to try to remove her harness in order to try to get to the sunlight but had eventually stopped and was generally quiet. We also partially elevated her head and legs. During this time Lyn was becoming more cognizant of her surroundings.

After several hours it began to get dark and we were concerned that we would 'he spending the night on the ledge. At one point Lyn asked me if I would go up on The Crawl and belay her out. Impressed with her awareness, we decided to try it. I climbed to the ledge and belayed Lyn and then clipped her into the piton, and then belayed Katie up. Faced with the possibility of essentially climbing The Crawl unprotected (since the rope, being tied off, did not reach the lower side of The Crawl), I decided to cut the rope so at least we would have some rope to belay her off the mountain. It was strange to cut the rope. It had a feel of finality, that we were now committed to our plan.

From The Crawl to the scree slope, I set up belay stations, sometimes only with a couple of knobs slung with webbing and a prayer to use as anchors. Katie walked in front of Lyn and gave her directions how to move while I belayed her. Finally we reached the scree slope and were met by the Sisters Fire Department. The first man to reach us started talking about what a bad hair day he was having. I finally asked if he would examine Lyn. He performed a brief examination and then we started down the scree. He carried a large rack of carabiners, but had no rope or other protection. We asked about the rope and be said they left it at the base of the hill. He was urging us to go down where he just came up. This was steeper and more rocky than the normal trail down. Lyn said, "Why can't we take the trail?" So we went down the standard route. The other two rescuers also followed us down.

At the base of the scree slope there were other Sisters Fire Department personnel and a sheriff. We asked for water, but they had none extra. It was getting dark and cold and one of the SFD personnel (wearing only a T shirt and jeans) was visibly cold, so we gave him one of our jackets. Lyn walked most of the way out on her own. At one point she rode in the litter but soon got out because it was too bumpy and cold. (They hadn't brought any blankets.) While hiking out, the other rescuers talked about other accidents in front of Lyn, which I found to be in poor taste. The Explorer Scouts met us at the Santiam Pass trail junction with water, flashlights, and blankets. Lyn then went in the litter again. At the trailhead the ambulance took Lyn to the Bend hospital around 1230. Katie and I followed the ambulance to Bend and spent the night there.

The following day Mardi Keltner met us at the trailhead and assisted in packing out our base camp. She also provided me with a safe journey home since I was exhausted and was not fit to drive. It was interesting to experience a rescue from the other side.

(Source: Maryanne Reiter who had trained with Corvallis Mountain Rescue)



IN MEMORIAM – Kate Tinnesand 1981 - 2005
Kate was a cheerful person who loved the outdoors. She was a graduate student at OSU in Microbiology having completed her undergraduate studies also at OSU. Although she grew up in Hillsboro, her family moved to the Washington, D.C. area as Kate entered high school; but Kate chose to return to Oregon for college. Much to the chagrin of her U of O alumni parents, she chose Oregon State.

In January 2005, Kate and her close friend and climbing partner, Desiree, came to a Unit meeting. They both completed Benton County’s SAR Certification course and made application to join CMRU. They had just finished the interview process for membership in June.

While descending from a successful summit of Three-Fingered Jack and departing about 100m below The Crawl (after the “technical” part of the climb), Kate lost her footing on scree covered ground and tumbled about 700 feet down the west side of the mountain sustaining fatal injuries. A moment of inattention turned a happy outing into a tragedy and changed the lives of all who knew her. We’ll miss your happy face and big smile. It’s a 5.10 mantle into Heaven, and we know you made it, Kate.


To further complicate matters for Iain and Desiree on the mountain, about one half hour after Kate’s fall a member of a rather large climbing group slipped while negotiating The Crawl. Although attached to a fixed line, it was by two carabiners (not Prussics). He slid to the bottom of the catenary and was not in contact with the ground while hanging off the east side of the mountain. He sustained injury to his hand and perhaps forearm. Fortunately he was rescued from his situation by his climbing party, and was able to walk out to the trailhead.





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

AAC Report - Fatal fall from Three Fingered Jack in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness 
News - Three Fingered Jack - OSU student falls on steep scree slope
AAC Report - Three Fingered Jack - Fatal slip on snow patch 
AAC Report - Three Fingered Jack - belayed fall from The Crawl 
Photos: Climbing Three Fingered Jack, a deceptively dangerous fifth class summit 
Photos: Three Fingered Jack
Three Fingered Jack experience by Ben Siebel
A violent fall on Three Fingered Jack by Julie Zeidman
A violent fall in Spain on caught on video    mpeg file  - WARNING - This may be disturbing! The climbers did recover.

Mount Washington - Report to the American Alpine Club on a second accident in 2004
Mount Washington - Report to the American Alpine Club on the recent fatal accident
Mount Washington - Oregon tragedy claims two lives
Injured climber rescued from Mount Washington
Mount Washington - fall on rock, protection pulled out
Playing Icarus on Mount Washington, an epic by Eric Seyler

Climbers swept by avalanche while descending North Sister's Thayer Glacier Snowfield
North Sister - climbing with Allan Throop
North Sister - accident report to the American Alpine Club
North Sister fatal accident news reports
North Sister and Middle Sister spring summits on telemark skis
North Sister, North Ridge by Sam Carpenter
North Sister, the Martina Testa Story, by Bob Speik
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Mt. Whitney's Mountaineer's Route requires skill and experience
Sierra Club climb on Middle Palisade fatal for Brian Reynolds
Runaway glissade fatal for Mazama climber on Mt. Whitney
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Notable mountain climbing accidents analyzed
California fourteener provides an experience
The Mountaineers Club effects a rescue in the North Cascades

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