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Mount Rainier, Washington: falling rock in summer conditions

On September 23, 2002, Ed Hommer, 46, was struck and killed by a falling rock on Disappointment Cleaver at the 11,700-foot level of the 14,411-foot volcano according to National Park spokeswoman Maria Gillett.  Hommer, a double amputee and well know mountaineer, was training for a climb of Mt. Everest.  Team leader Jim Wickwire reported the accident by cell phone, according to Gillett.  (From news sources.)

Analysis of accident: what knowledge and techniques will help prevent future accidents?

Disappointment Cleaver is the most dangerous part of this basic climb of Rainier, especially during the summer when melting snow and ice have exposed more of the mountain.  Hommer was struck by a basketball-sized rock and killed instantly, according to reports.

Additional comments:

Falling rock is one of the common objective dangers of mountaineering, especially in the spring and summer.  This problem is so common that some guide books advise against certain climbs unless hard freeze conditions will last for the duration of the climb.  Even small rocks can kill, attaining high speed as they bound down the slope.  Some give a warning sound and can be avoided (dodged), while others are silent killers.

Damage from rocks dislodged by companions can be mitigated by "staying up-tight".
--Webmeister Speik