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Mt. Mendel Fatality

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Mt. Mendel Fatality

Postby Skibum » Sun Jun 04, 2006 11:59 am

Had our first recovery of the season last week. :( 57 year old woman fell while down climbing Mt. Mendel. She and her partner, also female, both Sierra Club trip leaders from SoCal, attempted to climb Mt. Mendel last Wed. but turned back due to poor snow conditions. While attempting to down climb the East Face route, the victim slipped on an approximately 45-50 deg. slope and slid 200 ft. and over a rock band. Total lenth of fall was determined to be around 400 ft. The temps at the time were pretty warm and the snow was pretty rotten. Probably a good 6-8 inches of soft snow before anything hard enough to self-arrest with an ice ax.

There is still alot of snow in the higher elevations. Be smart, be safe!

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Postby wingding » Sun Jun 04, 2006 5:03 pm

From an email sent out to DPS members:

"John Thaw has requested that this message be distributed to all DPS members with


Patty Rambert was killed in a fall on snow in the Sierra Nevada May 30, 2006. Tina Bowman and Patty were climbing a route on the east side of Mt. Mendel. The trailhead for the peak is North Lake out of Bishop.

I spoke to Tom Bowman, Tina's husband, and he gave me details about the accident:
After proceeding to the peak from their camp near Lamarck Col, they climbed using crampons up a slanted chute and another chute. They reached the summit ridge and then proceeded to a spot where the snow conditions on the knife edge ridge were too unsafe to continue. They turned around without summiting and descended to a point above the upper chute, where Patty stood while Tina was checking the route
about 100 feet away from Patty. The snow conditions were soft and good. The next thing Tina heard a scream, and Patty was sliding down the snow. She was accelerating and not arresting. She appeared and reappeared behind the rocks and then was lost from sight. Patty fell to the bottom of a 100 foot cliff, and when Tina arrived there were no signs of life. Tina did not see or find Patty's ice ax when she gotto Patty. It seems incredible that Patty was not able to self arrest. Although Patty had had a digestive upset, both felt great that day and had no trouble getting up to the summit ridge. Patty's body was recovered the next day under National Park authority and taken to Grant Grove.

We will all miss Patty Her death is a terrible loss to many. To say the least, she was a ray of light with her enthusiasm, positiveness, and concern and care for people. She loved the mountains and other outdoor places. She spread that love to many people in many circles. We already know her generous spirit that has found a place in our hearts and will always remain there.

I am sure there will be a memorial. Her family, and the many to whom she was important, are presently trying to cope with the tragedy.

Ron Hudson"

Postby copeg » Sun Jun 04, 2006 7:20 pm

I always hate reading about these. :( But it is a sad reminder to take extra care out there...
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Postby Snow Nymph » Tue Jun 06, 2006 6:01 pm

I never met her, but always saw her name in registers, both in the Sierra and Desert Peaks. No matter how experienced you are, accidents happen. She will be missed! :(
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison

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Postby giantbrookie » Wed Jun 21, 2006 3:18 pm

What a grim and sad report. Spring snow is indeed extremely dangerous, owing to the difficulty in self arresting in the soft snow. I was nearly killed on Mt Brewer on Memorial Day weekend in 1979. It seemed impossible to self arrest as I flew down this slope that would have terminated with a launch over a 500' cliff. I did in fact stop, but only after having this terrible experience of being in the self arrest position for much too long with no bite from my axe pick. A few years ago, a friend of mine set off in early season for a N. Ridge climb of Conness. The approach was over snow and I reminded him of my experience somewhat sheepishly given that this fellow tackled far harder technical stuff than I ever did (such as that N Ridge) and I figured he needed no reminding. He did in fact slip on the approach to the col north of Conness. He could not self arrest and slid all the way to the bottom, where the snow fortunately bowled out. Needless to say his nerves were shot, so that ended his day, but both he and I were fortunate not to suffer the same fate as that woman and many other Sierran climbers who have been killed in similar circumstances.
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