I’ve seen dozens of accidents over the years, many of them in the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col. The worst was when a gym climber, green to the mountains and oblivious to the dangers of steep snow, sans crampons or ice axe, took one step off the top of the col and immediately lost her footing, her boot shooting out from under her as she cartwheeled down the steep slope. Her screams stopped only when she disappeared into the gaping maw of a mid-height bergshrund. Two days ago, as i was approaching my intended climb (Sunshine Crack), I looked up to see a climber hurtling sideways down the upper slope of the col, somersaulting onto rock talus halfway down the slope. I dropped my pack and rushed over to the victim, expecting to find a corpse or a mangled mess. The climber was unconscious, bleeding hard from the head, but still alive. After checking for serious arterial bleeding and not finding any, I immediately called for a heli rescue on my Delorme Inreach satellite device. The climber woke up after a few minutes, alert and oriented but confused, and I advised him not to move due to obvious head trauma and suspected neck injury. His partner, a wilderness first aid technician, stabilized him as ACMG guide and renowned ice climber Will Gadd ran full speed back up the BS col after witnessing the accident. A party on Snowpatch also began rappelling; one member of that party, Jeremiah, was fortuitously a travel nurse, who quickly sprang into action. The victim himself was a grizzled old veteran of the mountains who had put up first ascents on Mount Rainier in the 1960s, a nails tough mountaineer who uttered nary a whimper of pain or a single complaint during the entire five hour rescue mission. The rescue was a team effort, with Abigail playing goalie above us in the col to prevent small rocks from hitting the injured climber, Jeremiah tending to the victim, me on the Inreach providing updates to the cavalry, and Will Gadd directing the show. The chopper arrived after about five hours and whisked the victim off to Golden. Without the bird in the air, I doubt this climber could have survived. The lesson to be learned is always carry a satellite device into the mountains; you could save yourself, your partner, or someone else.
Accident In Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col