Oregon: (1) Cascades. John Howard, leader of a Mazama party, fell twelve feet while rappelling from the summit of Three Fingered Jack. The boulder to which the rappel rope was secured gave way. His injuries consisted of two sprained ankles.
Source of information: report from Trails Club of Oregon.
Analysis. Although details are lacking in this case, it hardly need be stated that rappels should be laid out with meticulous care and adequately tested by safety rope before being used. During each climber’s descent, the point of support should be watched by those awaiting their turn. Carelessness is unfortunately responsible for the majority of accidents in rappelling. As reported a year ago, one large western club has experienced more accidents from rappelling than from any other source. Because of the rapidity with which most beginners are introduced to the technique of rappelling, its dangers should be kept well in mind by those responsible for the conduct of climbing schools. In the accident reported here, the climber was within twelve feet of the end of his rappel. If the point of support had failed a few moments earlier, the result probably would have been far more serious.