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Mt Rainier (RMI) - Unarrested Fall, 1 Guide 3 Clients

July 7, 2005

Four injured climbers on Mount Rainier rescued
Thursday, July 7, 2005
By Warren Cornwall - Seattle Times staff reporter

Three climbers and their guide were rescued from Mount Rainier by helicopters this afternoon after they fell during a climb high on the mountain.

The most seriously injured of the four, Patrick Clemens of Bethlehem, Pa., was airlifted to Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis with a broken leg and head injuries, said National Park Service spokeswoman Lee Taylor.

Another climber, 42-year-old Matthew Fisher of Vernon, N.J., suffered a sore back and a possible spinal injury, and was taken to Harboview Medical Center in Seattle.

A third climber, Peter Bridgewater, 54, of Singapore, suffered no major injuries, and was able to walk nearby to be lifted off the mountain by a helicopter. He was in satisfactory condition at Tacoma General Hospital.

The guide, 31-year-old John Lucia, lost consciousness for a time after the fall, but was then able to help with the rescue before he was flown to Tacoma General Hospital, where he was in satisfactory condition.

Bridgewater fell on a steep slope, pulling the other three - who were roped to him - with them, Taylor said based on a report from a Park-Service climbing ranger at the scene of the rescue.

Bridgewater had fallen a moment earlier, but Lucia, who was first in line, was able to stop the fall. But when Bridgwater fell again, all four slid roughly 40 yards down a slope, Taylor said.

Lucia and Bridgewater were going so fast they flew over a crevasse. But Fisher and Clemens slid into the crevasse and fell about 20 feet.

Earlier reports indicated that the party had been crossing a snow bridge that collapsed, but that report was incorrect, Taylor said.

Two Men Seriously Injured

MOUNT RAINIER, Wash. -- Four climbers injured falling into a crevasse on Mount Rainier have been rescued. National Park officials said two of the men had serious injuries.

The most severely injured was hoisted by an Oregon National Guard Blackhawk helicopter and flown to Harborview Medical Center. He suffered head trauma and a broken leg.

The other seriously injured man complained of back pain. He was stuck in the crevasse for the longest and was removed by a second Blackhawk.

National Park spokeswoman Lee Taylor says the other two injured people suffered less-severe head and shoulder injuries and bruises. They were taken off the mountain by a private firm.

NPS - Ingraham Glacier - Trip and fall

On July 7 a Rainier Mountaineering Inc.(RMI) guide was leading a rope team up the Ingraham Glacier near 12,800 feet when one of the clients fell on the icy slope. The guide successfully arrested the client’s fall and then attempted to place a picket for a running belay. Before this could be done, the client regained his footing, climbed a bit more, and then fell again. With slack in the rope, the client pulled the guide off his feet.

It was a icy and steep section of the route, and neither was able to hold the self arrest. The guide and the client continued to fall past the other two teammates, pulling them off too. The fall continued approximately 150-200 feet before hitting a crevasse. The guide and the initial client actually missed the depth of the crevasse and landed on the shelf near the surface. The other two clients however fell deeper into the crevasse, roughly 30 feet down. The guide, who sustained lacerations and a head injury, radioed for assistance to other RMI parties as he assessed the team’s injuries.

The rescue call indicated that four climbers were badly hurt; injuries included femur fractures, serious head wounds, and spinal injuries. Within minutes a helicopter working in the park was diverted to pick up climbing rangers at Camp Schurman, Camp Muir, and the Kautz Helipad. The rangers were flown one by one to 13,000 feet. They worked with the guides to assess and stabilize the scene. The patients were triaged and extricated from the crevasse, as the guide and initial client (the two most ambulatory of the four) were shuttled off the mountain. The last two injured climbers were lifted via
hoist by the Oregon Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopters. The seriously injured patients were flown directly to Harborview and Madigan. All patients survived.

A summary of the injuries were: the guide sustained a broke eye orbit, lacerations, and contusions but was released the same day. The client who took the initial fall dislocated his shoulder and was also released the same day. The two clients who were pulled off each spent numerous days in the hospital. One cracked his C 5 and C 6 vertebrae, broke 6 ribs, ruptured his spleen and severely bruised his femur and thigh. The other also sustained 6 broken ribs, a punctured lung and a lacerated liver.

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