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Colorado, Turkey Creek Practice Rocks

Colorado, Turkey Creek practice rocks—This accident occurred during May, 1956, on one of the regularly scheduled field trips of the Colorado Mountain Club’s technical climbing school. A beginning group of about 10 people under the supervision of L. Kropp was standing on a wide ledge 30 feet above the ground. Robert Kreuzer (15) began traversing the ledge to the west. He found the ledge blocked by other members of the party and so decided to climb up and over a large boulder. As he got partly over the boulder, he felt he would not be able to make it, but he decided to try to go on over anyhow. Kreuzer’s left foot then slipped and his right hand lost its hold. He peeled off backwards and fell head first into a gully. He took a free fall of 10 to 12 feet and then slipped another 10 or 15 feet. He arrested himself before reaching the bottom. Another instructor was standing near the bottom of the chimney and rendered immediate first aid.

Kreuzer sustained bruises and cuts on the face and hands. He was able to rejoin his group and finish the climbing lesson for that day. Two of the other members of his party had attempted to grab him as he fell but were not successful in stopping him.

Source: H. F. Walton from W. E. Davis

Analysis: (W. E. Davis). The accident points up the possibility that beginning climbers may not learn the limits of their ability until they have actually experienced some close calls. Although the accident occurred in a supervised group during a regular technical climbing school, its occurrence emphasizes the need for constant alertness on the part of supervisors. It is quite possible that ten people are too many for a single instructor to teach. The CMC believes that six or eight is the maximum number for proper instruction and adequate supervision.