3 Fatalities on Sharkfin Tower in Worst Accident in Mountaineers History

Two Mountaineers instructors were killed on Sharkfin Tower in the North Cascades — the worst accident in the Club’s history.

The Seattle Times account of the accident reports that student Janel Fox, the least experienced member of the party on the 8,120 foot tower spent the rainy night on the ridge after the accident in which rocks the size of refrigerator rained down on the group killing the instructors and another climber.

The only other uninjured survivor, Michael Hannam of Olympia, was racing down a snowfield to get help. And Fox, the rookie, was left holding two seriously injured climbers — one fading in and out of consciousness, and the other so wounded he later died in Fox’s arms.

The dead were identified yesterday as Johanna Backus, 61, of Tacoma, a 19-year member of the Tacoma branch of the Mountaineers; Mark Harrison of Bellevue, a former Marine and a climbing instructor known for being fun and loud; and John Augenstein, 42, of Seattle, who had joined the weekend climb just to help out.

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