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Rocky Mountains of Colorado: (4) Longs Peak

Rocky Mountains of Colorado: (4) Longs Peak. On 17 July 1948 B. B. Van Diver (21) and William Eubank (20) were attempting to climb the east face of Longs Peak by the Stettner Ledges. At some spot near the top of the ledges, Van Diver, who had taken a 20-foot lead beyond his last piton, slipped and fell. Eubank, who had secured himself to a piton, applied the principle of the “dynamic belay” and thus was able to arrest Van Diver’s 40-foot fall. Despite the “dynamic belay,” however, he was pulled tightly against his own belay piton. Van Diver suffered a head laceration and mild concussion. The excellent rescue team of the Rocky Mountain National Park effected a prompt rescue, and further injury and shock were avoided.

Sources of information: newspaper accounts, and Colorado Mountain Club reports.

Analysis. The exact cause of the slip is unknown. Still, the accident does demonstrate two important points. First, on difficult and exposed rock, a lead of 20 feet is too great, since a fall would be likely to cover double the distance and its force would be increased by acceleration. Second, good grounding in proper techniques of belaying can do much to avert disaster. The minimizing of injury in this case speaks well for the training of the climbers.