Saturday, May 21, 2011
American Alpine Club Executive Director Injured in Climbing Accident
On the afternoon of Tuesday, May 17, American Alpine Club (AAC) Executive Director Phil Powers was injured in a climbing accident. He is presently in stable condition in the intensive care ward at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Denver, CO.
When the accident occurred, Powers was climbing with a group near AAC headquarters in Clear Creek Canyon’s Highwire area outside of Golden, CO. Clear Creek Canyon is a popular and accessible sport climbing crag on public land.
The area where the group was climbing is directly above the highway and river. The rock formation at the site of the accident is overhanging making direct sight contact difficult. Due to communication difficulties, there was confusion amongst the party over Powers’ method of descent which resulted in Powers falling approximately 50 feet to the ground.
Powers landed on dirt mainly on the left side of his seat and torso and suffered a brief loss of consciousness. His companions immediately assessed him and began implementation of wilderness first aid and rescue preparation. Golden, CO Fire Department responded quickly and began a complicated evacuation procedure.
After being stabilized at the accident site, Powers was lowered on a litter by the Golden Fire Department to the riverbed, hauled up to a waiting ambulance, then driven one mile down the canyon where he was transferred to a Flight for Life helicopter. He was flown to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Denver where he immediately underwent a successful surgery to repair a punctured diaphragm and address a collapsed lung. Powers sustained multiple injuries to his torso region in the fall: including a broken arm, fractured ribs and vertebras, a punctured diaphragm, a collapsed lung, and substantial internal bruising. Powers was not wearing a helmet, but it does not appear that he suffered any head injury.
The American Alpine Club is focused on Phil, his family, and his recovery and is asking that well-wishers and concerned parties send their words of support to the AAC either via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via mail to American Alpine Club 710 10th St, Golden, CO 80305. The AAC will make sure that they get to the family.
No other information is currently available. As soon as any new information becomes available it will be shared and posted on the AAC’s website at http://www.americanalpineclub.org/p/status. Please do not contact Phil’s family at this time as they are dealing with many details important to his recovery.
About Phil Powers:
Phil Powers joined the American Alpine Club as executive director in May of 2005. His previous experience in the non-profit world includes service as Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Naropa University and seventeen years with the National Outdoor Leadership School as Chief Mountaineering Instructor and Development/Partnerships Director. He remains an owner of Jackson Hole Mountain Guides. Powers is author of Wilderness Mountaineering and Climbing: Expedition Planning. His essay, "The Importance of Pace", was aired on NPR's "This I Believe" in 2006. Powers has led dozens of expeditions to South America, Alaska and Pakistan's Karakoram Range, including ascents of K2 and Gasherbrum II without supplemental oxygen. He made the first ascent of the Washburn Face on Denali, naming it in recognition of the impact longtime AAC member Bradford Washburn's photos had in the planning and route research of many Alaska climbs. Powers also made the first ascent of Lukpilla Brakk's Western Edge in Pakistan, and the first winter traverse of the Tetons' Cathedral Peaks. He is an active climber and skier and lives with his wife and children in Denver, Colorado.