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Fatality on Mt Redoubt, Jasper National Park, August 14, 2013

A report from Parks Canada on a recent accident involving one climber on NW Ridge Mt Redoubt (3120m grade III 5.6) in Tonquin Valley

This is taken from Parks Canada Accident Reports.


In the afternoon of August 15th visitor safety in Jasper National Park received a call about an overdue solo climber on the NW Ridge Mt Redoubt (3120m grade III 5.6) in the remote area of the Tonquin Valley in Jasper National Park. Initial investigation found that the subject had missed his regular scheduled check in time using a sat phone the night before. Visitor Safety technicians found his vehicle at the trailhead and used containment methods to ensure he didn’t come out from the valley at other access points. A hasty search was conducted using ground teams; checking back-country camp grounds, and the huts. A Bell 407 rescue helicopter was used to perform an aerial search of the mountain routes and surrounding peaks in the immediate vicinity. The subject was not found that evening. The next day, weather hindered a search of the summit block but ground teams conducted extensive searches of the surrounding areas and the lower access to the route. As the weather improved, the air team was able to locate the subject 500m below the summit on a small patch of snow in a gully on the west face. It appeared as if he was rappelling but it is not clear what caused him to fall. The steep walls prevented the helicopter from safely deploying the recovery team right at the site so three Visitor Safety Technicians were slung to a buttress near the subject and climbed the broken ledges to access a site above the subject. They built an anchor and a technician was lowered onto the steep snow patch to package the subject. He was secured to the anchor and his own ropes, which had stopped him from falling further by getting hung up on a block, were cut away. The subject was then slung off the face and transported to a staging area.


While it is easy to immediately dismiss this incident as a soloist taking bold and unnecessary risks in the mountains, this climber was a very experienced and calculated climber. He understood the risk he was taking and had the skills and fitness and a solid and reliable check-in schedule with his family. By all accounts, the route was well within his skill set and he had the means to retreat from the route. It appears that this was a rappelling accident, but it is not clear if he had slung a block with his rope and it failed or if there was a failure of equipment at his anchor or if the weather played an issue (afternoon thunderstorms and high winds). For all climbers, it’s important that we understand the risks we take climbing. Our own skills, experience and route selection are important aspects and we must try and mitigate the risks by making the safest choices. Test your handholds, double check your anchors, provide as much detail on the route choice as you can to your emergency contact (or voluntarily register with the mountain parks service) and make sure you have the right equipment to tackle any situation you might encounter.

Mt. Redoubt with site of accident
Mt. Redoubt with site of accident