American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Colorado, Cussing Crack, Castle Rock, near Boulder

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1958

Colorado, Cussing Crack, Castle Rock, near Boulder-—On 9 August, Jeff Wheeler (14), Jerry Roach (14) and Ed Anderson (20) were climbing on Castle Rock. Wheeler was leading on a vertical wall near the top of Castle Rock, in Boulder Canyon. He was probably about 10 feet above his last piton. Apparently a handhold pulled out and Wheeler fell. Roach held the fall with a dynamic belay, letting several feet of rope run. Wheeler fell to a point about 10 feet below a two foot wide ledge. Anderson and Roach hoisted Wheeler to the ledge. Anderson remained with the injured climber while Roach rappelled for help. The fall occurred at 10:30 A.M. The Rescue Group received the call at 11:15 and reached the rock with 8 people at 12:30. A standard Stokes litter evacuation was performed, lowering Wheeler about 200 feet to the ground. He suffered innumerable cuts, punctures, abrasions and bruises, but no serious injuries.

Source: David Lewis, Rocky Mountain Rescue Group.

Analysis: More cautious climbing and careful checking of handholds could have prevented the fall. The rock on the climb is generally excellent and the climbers were on the last pitch of the climb; this might have led to a lack of caution. A sound piton and a good belay minimized the injuries in a fall that could easily have been disastrous to the whole party.

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