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California—Mt. Clarence King

California—Mt. Clarence King: Philip Berry (20) and David Brower (30) roped attempted to ascend the east spur of Mt. Clarence King on August 2, 1952 during the Sierra Club high trip. They had completed the first pitch (class 4) with Berry leading. Brower followed with the pack and felt he had a difficult time negotiating the pitch. Following a rest Brower took over the lead. As he started the next pitch using a semi-lay-back, he dislodged a rock “so huge as not to arouse suspicion.” It was estimated to be five feet by two feet by one and one half feet. The rock moved slowly enough to allow Brower to move in front of it and past Berry in his belay position. The rock slid down onto Berry, pinning him momentarily, and then slid past to a stop. Berry fully freed himself and the rope and Brower eased the rock off the ridge. Berry was in mild shock and had suffered a severe bruise of the outer surface of the left lower leg. A rappel was established and Berry belayed down this. Berry and Brower descended to the base camp where medical advice was available.

Source: David Brower.

Analysis: (Brower’s) “The danger from loose rock is still of paramount importance, and the size of a rock alone must never encourage a climber to drop his guard. In addition the fatigue from climbing the previous pitch with pack and ice axes may have affected the judgement concerning the soundness of the rock. When one is fatigued one must make this first nature; that is, one must consciously check each hold, no matter what its size.”