Two die, 12 hurt in climbing fall

Posted: Monday, June 30, 1997

June 30, 1997

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Monday, June 30, 1997Two die, 12 hurt in climbing fall

Last modified at 3:31 p.m. on Monday, June 30, 1997



ANCHORAGE - Members of a college mountaineering class were descending a snowfield in the Chugach Mountains when they slid on the 60-degree slope into a boulder field 1,000 feet below.

Two people, a man and a woman, were killed.

Twelve others were injured - many of them seriously - in the accident about 5 p.m. Sunday on Ptarmigan Peak, about 16 miles southeast of downtown Anchorage.

Seven men and five women were taken by helicopter from the mountain to Providence Alaska Medical Center, said hospital spokeswoman Janet Asaro. Two were confirmed dead and the others were in serious condition with multiple fractures and lacerations, she said.

The dead were Steven M. Brown, 23, and Mary E. Fogarty, 40, both of Anchorage.

Climbers in the University of Alaska Anchorage group were roped together in teams of two or three. They were descending from the top of Ptarmigan Peak, which is nearly 5,000 feet high, when the accident occurred, said Alaska State Troopers spokesman Steve Wilhelmi.

``The uppermost team apparently slipped and fell and that started the whole group falling,'' Wilhelmi said.

They dropped about 1,000 feet and were stopped by a boulder field, he said. Most suffered head injuries and broken bones.

Shawn Armstrong, 28, was jogging along a trail at the base of Ptarmigan Peak when she heard the screams of the injured. She helped skiers who witnessed the accident carry sleeping bags and clothing to people who were hurt.

``They were all pretty messed up,'' Armstrong said. ``We were thankful the helicopters came when they did. There were some people who really needed to get out of there.''

University spokesman Mel Kalkowski said, ``What we know so far is that the students were taking a course called Mountaineering 1, an introduction for those with limited or no climbing experience. .?.?. This was their second field outing.''

Lisa Luther, an Anchorage accountant who took the UAA Wilderness Studies class last year, said the climbers probably were doing a snow climb.

The area is ``pretty steep,'' Luther said. ``I remember it being very treacherous on the way down.''

Troopers named those injured in the accident as instructors Debra Green, 38, and Benjamin Green, 34, both of Anchorage; Gerilyn Pomeroy, 17, of Eagle River; Jacob Frank, 18, hometown not immediately available; Eric Schlemme, 31, of Fort Richardson; Kristen Staveland, 17, from Eagle River; Andy Murphy, 20, of Welch, Minn.; Juanita Palmer, 44, of Palmer; Jay Chamberlin, 21, of Ketchikan; Mona Eben, 43, of Anchorage; Bernandino Lagasea, 33, of Anchorage; and Joshua Thomas, 21, of Wasilla.

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