Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Summit Attempt Gone Wrong

excuse the writing, taken from an email to a friend, not quite a finished piece. thanks go to richard, tripp and asit for the good help in a bad situation.

all photos by richard hallman except bloody self portrait.

story goes we were out for a summit ski on mt hood. avi conditions were suppost to be considerable (what a crazy spring), but a flash rain/freeze turned the mountain into an unexpected ice rink. we continued gingerly- having started early (4am) we hoped sunshine would soften things as we ascended.

on a break between the palmer chair and the summit we saw a climber in a descending group slip and go for a slide- crampons catching and throwing him around a bit for roughly 700 vertical feet. there was no movement once he stopped sliding.

richard (rn/mountain rescue rat/brilliant photographer) and I decided to descend to lend assistance, while Tripp and Asit agreed to continue for the summit and get some iphone shots for us. I had reservations about the conditions and poorly designed crampons on my feet, bringing the first production model of a new design. i had brought them expecting heavy snow not bullet proof ice. besides lending assistance to the injured climber i knew this was the most intelligent option for my safety as well.

i aimed to reach a flat knob just 30 feet below where i could put on my skis safely. as i descended to the knob the downfoot crampon chain strap broke and my foot slid out. I was off on a slide for life for aprox 1,000 ft vertical and 2,000 ft of distance in about 25 seconds. the crampons ripped off as i attempted arrest and my ax bounced repeatedly on my forehead.

i received 2nd degree burn blisters on elbow and knuckles as i dug in the ax. i had 3 ski layers with gloves and gortex jacket over the blister areas- all clothing showing zero signs of wear. i recall being amazed at the incredible heat i was feeling while sliding- strange what things pop in your head when shit happens.

at one point i became airborne flipping me from my belly to side and I lost a ski from my backpack upon impact- i think.

i was able to reposition and set the ax, only slowing/stopping 500 feet later once the decline in slope allowed the minimal purchase to make headway.

i actually didn't even realize my ski was gone until i built a bench and went to put it on. with no functional crampons i sat and waited for the others to arrive for fear i would start sliding again. i took this shot as well.

my group descended, checked in with injured climber above (whose leg injury required evac). richard also retrieved my lost ski, hat and lucky belt buckle.

getting on skis never felt so safe.

this was all on my wife's birthday... she said me not getting injured was the best present she got that day.


  1. Lance, that is a brutal account of your trip. I feel bad about my Fisher price Joke. Glad your OK

  2. Holy crap bro - that pic is sick, looks like party ice...