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Washington, Mt. Johannesburg

Washington, Mt. Johannesburg—On 1 Sept., Tom Gibbon (33) an experienced climber was injured by a falling rock. While descending a steep heather slope on Johannesburg Mine trail on the N.W. flank and entering a rock and dirt couloir the party of four was spread out about 10-15 feet apart and traversing a steep sidewall into a couloir at less than right angles to the slope. The last man dislodged a rock about 10 lbs. in weight and shouted warning immediately. The other three members of the party flattened themselves, but the victim could not get his leg clear in time. Gibbons suffered a severe bruise on the outside of his left leg near the calf. One member of the party was a doctor and care was taken in evacuation to prevent further injury. The victim managed to travel 150 yards down the couloir in a sitting position to the head of the trail. Evacuation took place next day by local climbers and volunteers. Upon examination by x-ray it was determined that the fibula was cracked. Assistance of the doctor in the party in treating and splinting prevented additional injury. Weather was clear, climbing conditions excellent. The party had turned back 1500 feet short of the summit to avoid being caught out on bivouac and because of fatigue of two members of the party.

Source: Tom Gibbons.

Analysis: (Gibbons). Accident could have been prevented by severe application of rule to traverse areas having loose rocks on a horizontal line. However, topography in this instance, favored the angle of approach to the couloir that the party used.