Home > Mountain

Earthquake Strands Climber on Mount Logan

Argentine alpine climber Natalia Martinez, 37, has been stranded alone on Mount Logan, Canada’s highest peak.

She was nine days into a solo traverse of the 5,959-metre peak when two earthquakes struck the Yukon on Monday. The 6.2 and 6.3 magnitude quakes were felt throughout Yukon and in northern B.C.

“Right now, she’s doing her best to stay safe, keep the camp safe, to keep the tent sound,” said her partner Camilo Rada from Vancouver, who has been keeping in touch by satellite phone.

Martinez’s route up the East Ridge and down. Photo Icefield Discovery

She is currently above 3,000 metres, where much of the Logan’s glaciers have been affected and are falling apart from the quake.

Martinez is awaiting a helicopter rescue, which might not arrive until Friday due to the weather. She is working hard to keep her camp clear of drifting snow.

In Argentina, Martinez works as a ski and climbing guide. “She has a lot of climbing experience in Patagonia, which is notorious for the bad weather. So she knows how to make a camp strong and to keep it safe in a storm.”

Martinez was camped above the clouds when the earthquakes hit and the mountain started to fall apart.

Martinez on her way up on April 26. Photo Icefield Discovery

“She felt that all the ground under her camp subsided and moved a lot, and of course she was very scared.”

Her plan was to climb the East Ridge to the summit and head down through the King’s Trence and off the mountain. She is currently camped in a safe place away from any seracs.

There is a long history of accidents and bad weather forcing rescues on Logan. In the 1970s, now-retired Banff National Park Search and Rescue Technician Tim Auger was descending the East Ridge after reaching the summit when he took a big 600-metre fall and walked away with minor injuries.

The upper knife-edge ridge of the East Ridge. Photo Bryce Brown

In 1987, South African Dave Cheesmond and American Catherine Freer went missing on the Hummingbird Ridge of Mount Logan after earthquakes were reported in the area.

Cheesmond’s climbing partner in Calgary, Urs Kallen, recalled having a dream of Cheesmond and Freer being shaken from the mountain.

In 2005, Erik Bjarnason and partners were stuck in a bad storm and required a rescue. He wrote about the experience in his book Surviving Logan, read more about it here.

In 2015, Canadian climber Bryce Brown and two partners were rescued by a helicopter at over 5,700 metres, read about it here.