Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
rmncwrtr

Climber Rescued after 2000' Fall

Recommended Posts

From Alpinist Newswire:

 

Climber Rescued on Denali after 2,000' Fall

by Maureen McLaughlin

Editor's Note: The following news release was submitted to Alpinist by Maureen McLaughlin of Denali National Park and Preserve. McLaughlin confirmed that no new information is available regarding the two missing Japanese climbers on Denali's Cassin Ridge (see her May 29, 2008 NewsWire for the most recent information).

 

Denali mountaineering rangers led a life-saving technical rope rescue of a fallen solo climber on Denali (20,320’), Alaska Range, Alaska the evening of June 3.

 

Claude Ratte, age 44, of Montreal, Quebec was descending the West Buttress route from the 17,200' high camp to the 14,200' camp when he fell almost 2,000 feet down to the Peters Glacier. The climber fell from an elevation of approximately 16,400' down a 35-40 degree snow and ice slope, suffering facial trauma and a leg and ankle injury in the fall. Ratte was able to use his satellite phone to dial 9-1-1 shortly before noon on Tuesday. Alaska State Troopers connected the distressed climber with Denali National Park rangers who initiated a ground rescue. The high-altitude Lama helicopter was unable to fly due to heavy cloud cover.

 

A hasty team led by NPS mountaineering ranger Brandon Latham mobilized immediately from the 17,200' high camp, reaching the injured climber within three to four hours. A second rescue team led by mountaineering ranger Mik Shain climbed up the fixed lines from the 14,200' camp to assist in the elaborate technical rope rescue.

 

After an initial medical assessment was performed by the first responders, Ratte was secured in a rescue litter and the labor-intensive technical rope rescue commenced. Using multiple anchored rope systems, the patient was first raised 2,000 feet back up to 16,200' on West Buttress ridge, before being lowered 2,000 feet down the Headwall to the NPS ranger camp at 14,200'. From the time of the initial distress call, the entire ground rescue operation took ten-and-a-half hours and involved fourteen ground rescuers including mountaineering rangers, NPS volunteers, mountain guides, and independent climbers.

 

Denali mountaineering staff estimates there have been at least ten significant climbing falls onto the Peters Glacier, including three separate fatalities in 1998. The tehnical rope rescue of Ratte involves the longest raising operation in Denali mountaineering history.

 

As of the morning of June 4, Ratte remains in serious but stable medical condition at the 14,200' camp awaiting helicopter evacuation. With improving weather conditions on the mountain, the patient is expected to be flown off this afternoon and transferred to an Anchorage-based air ambulance for further medical care.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wow, 2000 feet of raising and lowering, respectively.

Yah, I second that. An average of about 600 feet/hour for 7 hours non-stop. At an average elevation of 15,000 feet. Now THAT is fucking impressive!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

16,400, isn't that a bit above the fixed ropes on the headwall? I am guessing he fell off the ridge opposite of the 14,000 ft camp?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...Using multiple anchored rope systems, the patient was first raised 2,000 feet back up to 16,200' on West Buttress ridge, before being lowered 2,000 feet down the Headwall to the NPS ranger camp at 14,200'...

 

That's kinda what I figured, otherwise they just woulda carried him down into camp without all the raising and lowering. I don't know where Peters Glacier is in relation to the 14,200 camp, but I'm guessing it's on the other side of the WB ridge, from the underlined portion above. Perhaps some of our more "worldly" travelers here will clear up the obfuscation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Makes me think of that story aboput alex lowe (?) carrying some dude on his back uphill to a helispot at some crazy altitude like 16k. Iron lungs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Makes me think of that story aboput alex lowe (?) carrying some dude on his back uphill to a helispot at some crazy altitude like 16k. Iron lungs.

 

I thought it was at the football field ~19k.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

probably. All I know about the story is that denali is some huge mountain somewhere in the northern yukon territory.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
probably. All I know about the story is that denali is some huge mountain somewhere in the northern yukon territory.

 

Huge???

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i'm trying not be a ginormous sprayer. this is in the AK section. leave it be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Assuming they were on terrain probably around 45 degrees, that 2000 feet of vertical raising was actually 3400 feet traveled. With 300-ft ropes, that would be 12 "pitches" of raises, maybe even more, depending on the minimum rope they wanted reserved for hauling!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Peters glacier is north of 14 camp; to get to 17 camp you go up the headwall then up the ridge that is in-between the 14 basin and the Peters. A number of people have fallen (and died) there - including an RMI guide and an NPS ranger in 1998.

 

The NPS keeps 2000' of rope at 17 camp for rescues since they often have to lower people down the rescue gully to 14 camp. I don't know if they were able to use them though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd love to see them work their rope system for something like this. They must be pretty darned dialed (both physically and technically) to raise and lower that distance in the given amount of time. Impressive work Denali mountain rangers! :tup:

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
They must be pretty darned dialed (both physically and technically) to raise and lower that distance in the given amount of time.

You bet. They get a lot of practice... as in, the real deal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This guy used a couple of his lives.

 

At the top of the fixed lines at 16K to 17K is the best part of the WB. It is a walk on top of a ridgeline. To the south is the 14K basin of the West Buttress, to the north is the Peters Glacier. In some places it a casual stroll in others there are steepish steps where one miss step results in this type of accident. Some places have short rappels or fixed lines. For the most part one is on the Peters Galcier side of the ridge. Denali Pass is the head of the Peters Glacier, and the 17.2k camp is on the Peters Glacier as well.

 

As mentioned, 1998 two unroped climbers fell down to the Peters Glacier, one died. A good friend who was on a NPS patrol went down to aid and sadly fell as well. A few days latter a guided group was descending near Washburn's when a client fell - he was roped in but could not right himself. A guide unclipped from the rope to help and fell. The bodies of the guide and the other climber were recovered a few days later. My friend rests in Peter Glacier.

 

As for Alex, another friend, it was at 19k that he carried a guy across the football field to a waiting Lama helicopter.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This guy used a couple of his lives.

 

At the top of the fixed lines at 16K to 17K is the best part of the WB. It is a walk on top of a ridgeline. To the south is the 14K basin of the West Buttress, to the north is the Peters Glacier. In some places it a casual stroll in others there are steepish steps where one miss step results in this type of accident. Some places have short rappels or fixed lines. For the most part one is on the Peters Galcier side of the ridge. Denali Pass is the head of the Peters Glacier, and the 17.2k camp is on the Peters Glacier as well.

 

As mentioned, 1998 two unroped climbers fell down to the Peters Glacier, one died. A good friend who was on a NPS patrol went down to aid and sadly fell as well. A few days latter a guided group was descending near Washburn's when a client fell - he was roped in but could not right himself. A guide unclipped from the rope to help and fell. The bodies of the guide and the other climber were recovered a few days later. My friend rests in Peter Glacier.

 

As for Alex, another friend, it was at 19k that he carried a guy across the football field to a waiting Lama helicopter.

 

I remember those accidents in 98. I was on Mt. Silverthrown, just east of Denali and we heard about it when we got back from our trip. Sorry to hear about your friend.

 

I am still in awe of Alex Lowe's effort up that high. I had enough trouble stuffing my sleeping bag in the pack, let alone carrying another person at that altitude. Wasn't that also one of the highest helicopter rescues in North America ever too? I remember my parents being really worried it was our team that was being rescued, even though we were on a different nearby peak.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After an initial medical assessment was performed by the first responders, Ratte was secured in a rescue litter and the labor-intensive technical rope rescue commenced. Using multiple anchored rope systems, the patient was first raised 2,000 feet back up to 16,200' on West Buttress ridge, before being lowered 2,000 feet down the Headwall to the NPS ranger camp at 14,200'. From the time of the initial distress call, the entire ground rescue operation took ten-and-a-half hours and involved fourteen ground rescuers including mountaineering rangers, NPS volunteers, mountain guides, and independent climbers.

To say labor intensive is an understatement. It's a phenomenal effort! Beers all around!

:brew::brew::brew::brew::brew::brew::brew::brew::brew::brew:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Talked to my friend at 17200 camp yesturday. He is up there on an NPS Vollie Ranger round with his wife. Sounded like a lot of work during that rescue. Imagine 2000ft on your ass he is one lucky S.O.B. Buddy had no broken bones just superficial injuries.

 

Thats is definitely one life off his 9.

 

Sounds like the last couple of days have been pretty glorious up high over the last couple of days.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say extremely lucky. If I remember correctly, the whole side of that slope from the rdge between 16,200' and 17,200' is filled with rock outcroppings. The fact that he didn't hit one that causedserious injury before he stopped below on the Peters glacier is extremely lucky. It would be interesting to know where he fell. I assume it was not right at the 16,200 where you start to head down the fixed lines to 14 camp, so they may have had to raise him on an angled traverse as well. Kudos to the Denali rangers. Those guys are amazing....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The rescue was definitely a sight to see. Just to clarify, he basically fell down the slope directly above/behind the top of the fixed lines down to the Peters. There are no rocks on that slope, just snow and ice, upon which he was unable to self arrest. a cartwheeling situation landed him into a crack where he opened up his jacket, pulled out a sat phone (that was somehow not in his pack, which was ripped off and yard saled), and called 911. it also happens that he landed next to a tent that had blown down from 17k a couple days before; he wrapped it around himself until the NPS got there. Super lucky...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The rescue was definitely a sight to see. Just to clarify, he basically fell down the slope directly above/behind the top of the fixed lines down to the Peters. There are no rocks on that slope, just snow and ice, upon which he was unable to self arrest. a cartwheeling situation landed him into a crack where he opened up his jacket, pulled out a sat phone (that was somehow not in his pack, which was ripped off and yard saled), and called 911. it also happens that he landed next to a tent that had blown down from 17k a couple days before; he wrapped it around himself until the NPS got there. Super lucky...
Probably had the phone in his coat so the batteries would not freeze up. Sounds like he had quite a few lucky breaks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×