“Watch Your Step”
If there is a dream team in the sport of mountain climbing, this was it. Legendary mountaineers Peter Hillary, Peter Athans, Brent Bishop, Peter Ligate and a team of porters and support personnel had reached Camp 2 in their assault on Mt. Everest. But one of them wouldn’t make it back down.
They reached Camp 3 after days of arduous climbing at an oxygen-starved altitude of 23,700 feet. A jet stream, a flood of wind, was howling only 3,000 feet above the camp and reaching life-threatening speeds of 350 mph. The team got little sleep. Instead, they spent the night holding their tents together in the vicious wind. House-sized chunks of ice were shifting, with one large piece collapsing uncomfortably near the camp.
The team included Himalayan veteran Peter Athans, who holds a record for six Everest summits; Peter Hillary, son of famed alpinist Sir Edmund Hillary, who along with Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay became the first person to reach the world’s highest peak; Brent Bishop, who is also following in his father’s footsteps; and Peter Ligate, a 38-year-old business manager and experienced climber. They waited out the weather at Camp 3.
After three days at Camp 3, the conditions worsening, the team decided to turn back. Ligate started down a steep route to Camp 2. Suddenly, he stumbled, missing a clip into the safety line. Ligate careened down the mountain’s blue ice and fell 600 feet to his death in a crevasse.
Even an experienced mountaineer can lose concentration, with disastrous consequences. In the blink of an eye, a fall can change everything, whether you’re climbing a mountain or climbing a ladder. But here’s how you can stay safe.
*Stay Clean. Clutter and poor housekeeping lead directly to tripping hazards and falls.
*Keep walking surfaces safe. Make sure walking surfaces are inspected, cleared, marked and maintained.
*Wear proper shoes. Inspect boots regularly, especially the soles, which can become slick.
*Use ladders safely. Make sure ladders are properly secured. Don’t overreach. Inspect ladders regularly.
*Store safely. Don’t store heavy or awkward items above peoples reach.
Don’t Let a Fall…Trip Up Your Future
*Copyright 2009 Harkins Safety