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Climber disappears on Broken Top in Three Sisters Wilderness

The primary purpose of these reports and the Annual Report of Accidents in North American Mountaineering is to aid in the prevention of accidents:  Climber disappears.

On August 10, 2001, Danny Curran left his younger brother at their Green Lakes pack-in campsite late in the day saying he was going to climb Broken Top, the snow capped mountain summit just one and a half miles due east. The elevation gain is 2,670’ over friable volcanic rock, snow and ice.

Several climbers trails lead to the prominent north west ridge, which in turn leads to a very exposed summit block with a 1,000’ drop to the Crook Glacier. Permanent snow fields and the Bend Glacier buttress the north side of this summit ridge. At the end of the summer, the snow fields and glacier ice had pulled back from the rock of the knife edged ridge leaving crevasses and bergschrunds of great depth.

Search and Rescue teams and local climbers searched for Danny Curran until November 18, 2001 until the weather deteriorated and more snow began to fall.

Analysis of Accident: What knowledge and techniques will help prevent future accidents?
Danny Curran had little mountaineering experience. With his younger brother, he was a visitor to Central Oregon from his home in Pennsylvania. He was dressed in blue jeans, a black down jacket, hiking boots, a knit cap and gloves. He had no pack with backup gear although he was climbing late in the afternoon in fall weather that dropped below freezing at night. The five inch snow pack of the previous week had turned to two inches of hard snow making footing treacherous.

Aside from the obvious recommendation that it is best to climb with others, people are free to go alone; but they should learn to be prepared. “A lot of people hike alone,” said SAR spokesman Chris Nolte. ‘We were up at the trail-head today, and it was raining, and we watched people heading up there solo or in pairs, wearing fleece and blue jeans - not prepared. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Additional Comments

On June 17, 2001, Corwin Osborne, an older and more experienced climber, also disappeared in the Three Sisters Wilderness, prompting a search which ultimately involved about 250 people, 28 agencies and more than 6,000 hours. Corwin Osborne, a Washington resident, without ice axe or crampons, had planned to traverse the summits of South, Middle and North Sister, an elevation gain of more than 10,000’ and hike almost 40 miles across country in one day. 

Report filed by Member Robert Speik and printed in the 54th edition of ANAM for year 2001
Copyright© 2001 by Robert Speik. All Rights Reserved.




Mountain climbing has inherent dangers that can, only in part, be mitigated

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Ten Essentials
What do you carry in your winter day pack?

American Alpine Club
Oregon Section of the AAC
Accidents in North American Mountaineering

  About Alpine Mountaineering:
  The Sport of Alpine Mountaineering
  Climbing Together
  Following the Leader
  The Mountaineers' Rope
  Basic Responsibilities       Cuatro Responsabiliades Basicas de Quienes Salen al Campo
  The Ten Essentials         Los Diez Sistemas Esenciales