A 25-year-old Alabama man died in a fall while climbing Goat Wall near Mazama on Sunday (Sept. 17).
Ryan Spencer Dawes, known as Spencer, was from Athens, Alabama, and was working as a climbing guide for Northwest Alpine Guides in Sedro-Woolley, according to Okanogan County Coroner Dave Rodriguez.
Dawes was climbing the 1,500-foot Methow Inspiration route with two fellow guides when he fell 80 to 100 feet while rappelling down the rock face. The three were on a personal climb and were not guiding others at the time of the accident, Rodriguez said.
The three had already reached the top of the five-pitch route and were descending when Dawes fell. Dawes, who was descending first, had started down from pitch number 3. His climbing partners weren’t able to see what happened from their position on the ledge at that pitch, Rodriguez said. Dawes was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.
Dawes’ climbing partners called 911 at about 5:30 p.m. Aero Methow Rescue Service, the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office, and Okanogan County Search & Rescue (OCSAR) all responded, and Aero Methow and OCSAR responders hiked about half an hour on steep, loose scree to reach the accident site. A U.S. Navy helicopter from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island transported Dawes’ body from the scene to the Lost River Airport, Rodriguez said.
Dawes’ mother was notified in person by a Limestone County, Alabama, sheriff’s deputy in the middle of the night, Rodriguez said.
Investigators don’t know how far Dawes fell nor where or how the ropes failed, Rodriguez said. Climbing rangers inspected the site on Monday and collected the ropes, but haven’t issued their report yet, he said.