Four climbing accidents were reported within 24 hours Monday and Tuesday on the Avalanche Gulch route up Mount Shasta. [123rf.com]
The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office again coordinated rescue efforts for an injured climber in the Avalanche Gulch area of Mount Shasta Tuesday afternoon. The latest accident, reported at 11:20 a.m. Tuesday, is in addition to three climbing accidents reported Monday, including one fatality and four injured.
No details were initially available about Tuesday’s efforts.
The first incident, reported at 8:35 a.m. Monday, involved two climbers and a mountain guide tied together as they scaled Mount Shasta above Helen Lake. One of the climbers reportedly lost his footing, causing all three to slide about 1,500 to 2,500 feet down the mountain, the sheriff’s office said.
One man was in critical condition with an open fracture in his lower leg and head trauma. One woman was alert and oriented but had a fractured lower leg.
Climbing guide Jillian Elizabeth Webster, 32, of Redmond, became unresponsive after the fall. A nurse who climbed nearby performed CPR, and Webster was flown to Mercy Mount Shasta, where she was later pronounced dead.
The male climber was flown by a California Highway Patrol helicopter to the old Ski Bowl parking lot further down the mountain, transferred to an ambulance and flown to Mercy Medical Center. He was reported Monday night to be recovering.
The climber was also flown to the Ski Bowl parking lot. She was placed in a ground ambulance and transported to Mercy Medical Center Mount Shasta, where she reportedly recovered.
In the second incident, reported at 12:30 p.m. Monday, a male climber slipped about 1,000 feet above Lake Helen. US Forest Service climbing rangers reached the man and reported that he was injured but not life-threatening. Rangers partially helped the man down the mountain, but he couldn’t go any further, so he was flown to Mercy Medical Center Mount Shasta. His condition was not immediately known on Tuesday.
A third accident was reported at 4 p.m. Monday. A woman who had been climbing with the male climber injured in the second accident lost traction and slid about 1,000 feet down the mountain. A CHP helicopter dropped a climbing ranger near the injured woman, and she was flown to Mercy Medical Center Mount Shasta. Her condition was not immediately known.
Conditions on the mountain were likely “icier than expected,” said Charles Smith, a weather forecaster with the National Weather Service. However, it’s not uncommon for it to be icy at this time of year, he added.
A warming trend is forecast on the mountain this week, then temperatures are expected to drop again on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.
“Avalanche Gulch is considered Mount Shasta’s most popular non-technical route,” said Don Lee of the Department of Visitor Information Services in the Shasta-McCloud Management Unit of Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
Lee said the Avalanche Gulch route to the summit climbs more than 7,000 feet and involves extreme weather, rock falls, steep climbs, snow and ice.
People considering a climb are advised to check weather conditions. Visit shastaavalanche.org or call Mount Shasta Transfer Station at 530-926-4511. The National Weather Service recovery report for the area is updated daily.
Reach reporter Terri Harber at [email protected] or 541-776-4468.