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Tumbling into Scree

After a few steps I slipped and immediately dug into the self arrest position. While I slowed down, I was unable to stop in time before running straight into a scree field. I tumbled, head-over-feet at least three times and landed on my back in the middle of the rock field.

December 22 2015

Rock climbing

I meant to email sooner. I'm enrolled in the basic alpine climbing course through the Seattle Mountaineers and on June 23rd we set out to climb Sahale Peak. I was wearing a Petzl Meteor 3 for the journey. After my group reached the peak, we rappelled down and started to descend a snow field to reach the Sahale Glacier. After a few steps I slipped and immediately dug into the self arrest position. While I slowed down, I was unable to stop in time before running straight into a scree field. I tumbled, head-over-feet at least three times and landed on my back in the middle of the rock field. Miraculously, I was pretty fine despite sliding approximately 100 yards. I had gashes on my thumb, elbow, and back, and some minor bruises and was able to walk out without any further incident.

My helmet had quite a few knocks on it and I had superficial bruises on my forehead and temple that went away the next day. Here is a link to a picture another party took of the decent which I feel is pretty accurate to where I slid down (http://www.summitpost.org/descending-the-summit/330840) and the rock patch I tumbled into. I've also attached a picture of my helmet and the incident report below. - Lauren Wilson

Incident Report 

On Tuesday June 23 I [Guide David J.] led a party of six on a one day climb of Sahale Peak via the Quein Sabe glacier. We had great weather and climbed efficiently to reach the summit at about 10:30 a.m.. We took some time on the summit and rappelled the south side of Sahale. The rappels reached a 45 degree snow slope. By noon everyone had rappelled down, we pulled and coiled the ropes, and the team started descending towards the Sahale Glacier.

We were directly above a large island of scree in the snow field, so I had the team traverse skier’s left to get a better runout. Rope lead Jeff B. and a very experienced basic student Will C. started the traverse in fairly soft snow and soon realized it wasn't easy, but they didn't say anything. They were followed by basic student Lauren W. who slipped and fell. She immediately arrested, used good form, and at first it looked like she would stop, but she was unable to. We yelled at her to keep arresting and she did, which kept her speed down significantly. Still she hit the scree field with some velocity and flipped over about four times.

I asked Will and Jeff to continue down to attend to Lauren. Before they got there, she stood up and I called for her to sit down and stay put. I stayed at the top of the slope with the two remaining basic students and helped them get down safely (and slowly). Will and Jeff initiated first aid. By the time I got down with the two other students, Lauren had been checked out, walked to the bottom of the snow field, and was getting tied into the rope. She insisted she was okay, but she was clearly shaken up emotionally. Will and Jeff reported she had an abrasion on her right elbow that they attended to and a dented helmet, but that she appeared to be okay to continue.

We made it to the bottom of the Sahale Glacier with no problems. We stopped at Sahale Camp and I asked Lauren's friend Mikaela H., another basic student who recently took a WFA, to examine Lauren thoroughly. Mikaela found and treated some more abrasions on Lauren's backside and a minor contusion on her forehead, but everything else including spine and mental status checked out okay. The team offloaded Lauren's gear and she wore Mikaela's helmet down the rocky section of trail just in case she might fall. She walked the 5.7 miles back to the cars with no problems. She carpooled with me back to Seattle and continued to do well.

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Warning: Climbing, mountaineering, and the activities described in this story are inherently dangerous. You are responsible for your own actions, decisions and safety. Wearing a helmet can significantly reduce the risk of head injury, but does not ensure protection against all impacts. 

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