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Fall Kills Woman in North Cascades National Park


A Maryland woman died atop Klawatti Glacier in North Cascades National Park earlier this week after being injured in a fall. NPS image.

What if?

What if Bob and Cathleen Terczak had invested in a personal locater beacon before they began their week-long backcountry trek in North Cascades National Park? It's a haunting question in the wake of a climbing accident that killed the 50-year-old Maryland woman.

Would the situation have turned out differently had the couple been carrying a personal locater beacon that might have summoned help after she fell 35 feet while climbing Klawatti Peak? The accident occurred last Saturday, and after lingering for about 24 hours the woman died from her injuries in the couple's tent atop Klawatti Glacier.

A raging storm prevented the 58-year-old Mr. Terczak from immediately going for help. When he finally was able to leave the tent Monday morning, the man struggled crossing rugged terrain and then encountered the Cascade River, in which he nearly drowned while crossing.

Mr. Terczak was found about 9 p.m. Monday by a trio of Seattle-area climbers who discovered him coming out of an outhouse, naked except for some toilet paper wrapped around his head and part of his body.

The man told the climbers about his wife's accident and his ordeal trying to find help. Bad weather prevented rangers from retrieving the woman's body until Thursday, when a helicopter was used to reach the couple's tent.

You can read the rest of the story here.


I have known Bob Terczak since 1978, a very experienced hiker and climber, Bob was well versed in reading maps and knowing what to do in dangerous situations. In 1983 my ex-hushand and Bob went on a similar hiking trip in Maine, they made it to the top of the summit which was sheer ice, it was a clear day and they even have a photo of them both at the top, you can see for miles around. On the decent they got caught in a freak blizzard and lost the trail in snow. They tried to put up a tent but the trees were too close together so they had to keep hiking in the deep snow till they could find a space. Luckily, after 6 hours exhausted and soaking wet, they found a deserted logging cabin with a stove to wait out the storm. After that experience I discussed with my ex-husband that there should be a device that all hikers going into National Parks should be REQUIRED to carry a GPS homing device to call when in an emergency. There is no reason with the current techology of GPS and homing devices that this type of tragedy should occur again. With every expedition there is an element of danger, every climber knows that possibility. Bob knew all about preventing hypothermia and survival skills. There is no doubt in my mind Bob did everything to save his wife and plan out the best way for them to both survive. Simply, this was a tragic accident. My heart goes out to Bob and friends and family of Cathy.

Diane Kerr.

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