National Forest Urges Safety after Glissading Accident
After two recent injuries, one to a climber glissading (intentionally sliding down a snow chute) on Mount St. Helens, Gifford Pinchot National Forest has issued a warning urging climbers to exercise caution on their descents.
With snow melting quickly, this can be a potentially dangerous time of year on steep snowfields. Forest officials say most serious accidents happen when climbers are unable to stop or avoid hazards, though weakened ice bridges can also present a danger.
Some of the safety precautions officials recommend for any summit:
- Climbing parties should use good judgment and take special care of weaker members and novice climbers
- Be prepared for treacherous slopes (steep and slick, with dangerous areas blow), especially on the way down, going from the basin at timberline to the crest of Monitor Ridge (on Mount St Helens)
- Before climbing, gain knowledge of competent ice axe or ski poles use on all snow slopes and the ability to self-arrest a fall under any conditions
- Be aware of receding snow on current glissade paths higher on the mountain, exposing rock hazards
- Stay well back from cornices along the summit rim
- Prepare for warming temperatures demanding climbers carry three liters of water at a minimum
- Know and use proper footwear, clothing, sun protection and sunglasses
- Prepare and carry gear for bad weather
- Carry a first aid kit, and be able to use it
- Sliding or glissading down the mountain after a long day’s climb may seem fun and easy; but attempting this activity is not without inherent risks.
- One should understand the dangers of the terrain carry poles/axes and know how to self-arrest
- Experienced Forest Service climbing personnel and volunteers are present to assist in emergencies, but personal safety is ultimately the climber’s responsibility
Have fun on your hikes and climbs, but go prepared and be careful out there.