ANAC Ice Accidents 2017 - Canadian Climbs


Editor's note: Accidents in North American Climbing (ANAC) is an annual compendium of climbing accident reports in the United States and Canada. Since 1948, the American and Canadian Alpine Clubs have provided an annual summary of the year’s most significant and teachable climbing accidents. The Alpine Club of Canada started contributing material in 1977.

From the American Alpine Journal:

The objective of the ANAC series is to learn from other climbers’ mistakes. Each edition of the book contains detailed reports and analyses of what went wrong. Over time a pattern in common mistakes, objective hazards, and route specific hazards become apparent. Far from macabre, the information contained within ANAC contains valuable safety lessons for all climbers, whether a beginner or a seasoned veteran.

Below is a feature of the reported climbing accidents that took place in Canada in 2016 featured in ANAC 2017.

Photo: Parks Canada.

Photo: Parks Canada.

"On December 28, two experienced climbers started up the classic Field ice climb known as Carlsberg Column. Carlsberg has an “approach pitch” that starts out with a steep little pillar (WI3) and then continues for another 30 meters of low-angled ice to reach a large ledge below the main route. After climbing the steep part of the approach pitch with no protection, the leader placed an ice screw and continued up the easier terrain, placing one more screw in good ice. Somewhere near the end of the pitch, he was preparing to place another screw when he fell, sliding down the low-angled ice and then flying over the steep section before his partner caught the fall, stopping him 10 meters above the ground. The total fall distance was estimated at 25 meters.

"During the long fall, the leader slammed his feet into the ice and broke both of his ankles. When he came to a stop, he was conscious and a quick inventory revealed no other injuries except for the ankles. His partner lowered him to the ground and proceeded to make him comfortable before calling 911 for a rescue. Ultimately, the climber was evacuated to a waiting ambulance using a helicopter sling-rescue system." - ANAC 2017

Photo: Parks Canada.

Photo: Parks Canada.

"On February 21, a party was climbing Professor Falls on the slopes of Mt. Rundle and attempting to combine pitches in order to complete the route quickly. The leader, a very experienced climber in his 50s, climbed and protected the upper portion of the second pitch, walked across a low-angle ice ledge to the base of the third pitch, and started up. As he stopped to place an ice screw, he slipped and fell, slid back across the ledge, and fell down the pitch he had just climbed. He fell approximately 30 meters before being stopped by his belayer just above the belay ledge. He fractured his pelvis, vertebrae, and ankle, along with other more minor injuries.

"Nearby climbing parties assisted with stabilizing the patient, while a combination of a personal locater beacon and cell phone were used to call for help. At 2:45 p.m., three Parks Canada Visitor Safety staff were slung into the scene by helicop- ter. The patient was packaged, slung out to a waiting ambulance, and taken to the hospital in Banff." - ANAC 2017

Photo by Kananaskis Country Public Safety.

Photo by Kananaskis Country Public Safety.

"An experienced party of two was climbing Forbidden Corner (5.9 R) on April 12 when the leader fell about 10 meters on the fourth or fifth pitch as a result of a broken hold. A piece of protection pulled out and lengthened the fall. As the belayer stopped the falling leader, the climber swung into the wall feet-first, and he sustained a compound fracture of his lower right leg. The pitch had involved traversing, and the climber ended up below and to the left of the belayer. Self-rescue would have been difficult, so the pair phoned for a rescue.

"Kananaskis Public Safety responded to the call with six rescuers and a Bell 407 helicopter with slinging capabilities. A direct helicopter sling was attempted, but wind and the steep nature of the route made it too dangerous for rescue personnel. Instead, the rescue team climbed the route to access the patient. The injury was stabilized and the patient and an attending rescuer were lowered to the ground with a twin-rope rescue system." - ANAC 2017

Submit A Report

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ANAC welcomes first-person reports about technical climbing accidents, as well as reports and analysis from rescuers, rangers, and other individuals familiar with the incidents. The person(s) involved may choose to remain anonymous.

  1. The American Alpine Journal's online Submission Form collects all the necessary information.
  2. Email the editors to ask questions about your report or to submit photos or diagrams.

Submit your ANAC submissions.

En français: ANAC soumissions


Connect with ANAC

Now, Accidents in North American Climbing has a new Facebook page, and a new podcast providing free, in-depth, monthly interviews with survivors and/or rescuers of serious mountain accidents.

Find out more, including how to buy a PDF or hard copy of Accidents in North American Climbing.