Sunday, November 29, 2009

Castle Rock crevasse deaths 1986

McMurdo search and rescue report, 23 November 1986:

"... The two entry sites into the crevasse were approximately 30' apart. Looking into the crevasse we could not see the bottom, nor was there any response when we tried to yell to the victims..."

"Once a rope to the first victim was established, (Mr.) Petty prepared to rappel down, and observed a repeated tugging on the rope from the victim below. On descent into the crevasses, it was noted that the crevasse width decreased from three feet at the top to approximately fifteen inches, seventy-five feet below the surface, where the victims were."

"Both had slid down the rock surface vertically, and appeared to be tightly wedged in... Petty (McMurdo medical) was the first to assess victim #1, and found him able to talk, although he appeared in a shocky state."

"Victim #2 was able to grab the end of the rope and coil it around his wrist, but was unable to hold on when it was pulled. His only words were to the effect "Get me out of here... I'm really in a mess, aren't I?"

"On victim #2... a final extrication attempt... we were able to secure a grappling hook under his arm for a fairly secure hold. With eight rescuers hauling on a 2:1 pulley system, the patient remained jammed, showing how tightly #2 was in fact jammed in..."

Both victims died in the crevasse accident. They had left the safety of the designated Castle Rock flagged route and had attempted to take a "short cut" to Scott Base (the New Zealand Base). A third member of the party was between the two when they dropped through the hidden snowbridge and into the crevasse. He crawled on his hands and knees to the flagged route, below the area known as the "Ice Fall" and ran to Scott Base, instigating the Search and Rescue (SAR) call-out.

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