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JIgsaw Pass Accident
#43928 08/10/15 06:42 PM
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Another fatality has occurred on Jigsaw Pass, the Class 3 pass that links the N. Fork of Big Pine Creek with the Bishop Pass trail. The Secor guide book does not say much about it, which might lead some to believe it is just like any other Class 3 pass...but,

Jigsaw Pass is one of the most dangerous passes in the range; Class 3 with very loose talus. Avoid it.

http://www.sierrawave.net/seattle-woman-dies-in-fall-at-jigsaw-pass/

Last edited by Bob West; 08/10/15 06:44 PM.
Re: JIgsaw Pass Accident
Bob West #43929 08/10/15 08:25 PM
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I'm going to add to Bob's comment about Class 2/3 and loose talus. Last Saturday I was on the Third Pillar of Dana. Luckily escaped out of there unharmed after getting trapped by a lightning storm high on the face.

What almost did me in was a simple walk down a talus slope in the dark. The recent rain must have loosened everything and the human sized slab of rock I stepped on gave way and I slid right along with it. A good chunk of the hillside came down with me for I'm guessing 40-50 ft. My ENTIRE right thigh is now black and blue, in addition to having multiple gashes all over from the pebbles, rocks, and boulders crashing around me.

It is only through luck that the bigger boulders didn't land or roll over me. It was night time when we got off the Third Pillar and I kept my climbing helmet on for warmth. I felt two whacks on my helmet and I now own a mangled helmet, but I least I don't have two large holes in my head. I could have easily ended up just like this woman.

5.10b climb, no problem. Scree slope, almost the death of me. Give some of those large boulders and rocks their due. Mt. Agassiz comes to mind.

I will of course continue to do what I love to do and wouldn't expect differently from anyone else. Just adding another story not to take some of the "easy" stuff lightly and keep your wits about you.

Speaking of Secor, he was a prolific climber doing many awesome technical ascents in the Sierra and was done in by a "simple" glissade on Baldy. Happy and safe hiking and climbing everyone.

Last edited by 2600fromatari; 08/10/15 09:08 PM.
Re: JIgsaw Pass Accident
Anonymous1 #43935 08/11/15 06:00 AM
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Glad you survived! I experienced a similar near-miss while descending the MR on Whitney. I reached out and touched a 'fridge size boulder, which then instantly slid and gathered speed as it tumbled and bounced all the way down the MR to the bottom. Sometimes it's the easy stuff that reaches out and grabs.

Re: JIgsaw Pass Accident
Bob West #43936 08/11/15 07:25 AM
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My first time up the MR I climbed to high on the S. side above LBSL, getting caught in the talus. I began traversing and as I stood on a boulder and unweighted my uphill foot, my downhill foot rotated the boulder out into space and I was dumped, falling 15 feet banging my shins and hitting my head... without a helmet.

I sat up and my first thought was "I hope nobody saw that." My second thought "I hit my head, I'm really surprised that I'm okay."

Ever since I always wear a helmet and do my best to test each hand hold and foothold on Class 2-3.


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Re: JIgsaw Pass Accident
Anonymous1 #43937 08/11/15 07:28 AM
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Also during an ascent of Diamond North during the 2013 Sierra Challenge, beloved, super fit and experienced climber Pat Hadley suffered a terminal fall on loose class 3 terrain.

No one is exempt from making errors (or simple misfortune) on this dangerous terrain.


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Re: JIgsaw Pass Accident
Snacking Bear #43942 08/11/15 10:43 AM
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OMG! This accident sure hits home! I just crossed Jigsaw Pass a month ago, and recall the ascent to be unpleasant to say the least. But only about 20 feet of the route (via the easiest way) seems to be really dangerous.

We climbed up the pass from Bishop Pass direction. Just getting to the base of the pass was bad enough - we had to cross an endless sea of huge boulders and there was little sign of the old mule trail to help out in navigation. We started the final climb in the right hand gulley as recommended in guidebooks. Loose but not dangerous talus here. About a third of the way up, we veered out of the gulley to the firm rock to the right, where the climbing was pleasant and safe. All too soon this rock steepened and we traversed left back into the gully (at a spot marked by a cairn). Here we encountered the most dangerous spot on the ascent. The gulley dropped off below in a clifflike step. I had to use a boulder as a step to gain the continuation of the gully, and spent some time testing its security before moving up. I wonder if that boulder was the one that let loose in the accident?

Above the boulder step, the gulley was reasonably safe if a bit steep and we gained the pass without incident. However, I probably won't ever return this way again. It is unbelievable that a mule trail used to cross this pass!

Re: JIgsaw Pass Accident
Bob West #44027 08/19/15 01:47 PM
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The following link to Inyo SAR describes the operation to recover the deceased hiker. The two photographs give some idea of conditions in Jigsaw Pass:

http://inyosar.com/jigsaw-pass-recovery/

Last edited by Bob West; 08/19/15 01:51 PM.
Re: JIgsaw Pass Accident
Bob West #44139 08/28/15 06:30 PM
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The link provides some additional detail information on this sad event that I had not seen before. Inspecting the photos in the linked report and comparing them with my own, it appears that the hiker may have not been descending the optimal route from Jigsaw Pass, which is the right hand gully (as seen from the Bishop Pass direction). She was descending a gully more to the left, which I guess led into some class 4 terrain, where the accident happened.

Even the best route is tricky and a bit dangerous. Hikers beware!

Re: JIgsaw Pass Accident
whitebark #44145 08/29/15 09:46 AM
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Here is a high quality photo of Jigsaw Pass. The correct ascent route is the right hand chute.

JIgsaw Pass

Here is a marked up version of the picture, with our ascent route marked, and where I think the accident occured. I think our route was about the safest one to the pass.

JIgsaw Pass by whitebark, on Flickr

Last edited by whitebark; 08/29/15 10:05 AM.
Re: JIgsaw Pass Accident
whitebark #44148 08/29/15 01:08 PM
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Yes, the right hand chute might be the "correct" one, but conditions change every year, due to avalanches and rock-fall. What was bad one year, can become very bad over time.

Either one is a bad choice.

The Bishop Pass trail had to be re-routed a few years ago, because of very large boulders that fell onto the original route.


Last edited by Bob West; 08/29/15 01:11 PM.

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