American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Colorado, Boulder, First Flatiron

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1960

Colorado, Boulder, First Flatiron—On March 14, Henry Case (19), Anthony Christensen (20), and Melvin McKnight (18), were climbing on the first Flatiron. The accident occurred when Henry Case was 280 feet above the base of the face. His belayer was located about 80 feet below him. Case fell when about 15 feet above his only piton which was inadequate to say the least. It had begun to snow with the snow melting when it hit the rock. Henry was on a smooth wet friction slab and began to slide on his stomach. He slid and bounced a total of 180 feet pulling out his piton and stopping at the end of his rope on a small ledge. At this time, the other parties on the rock began a descent due to the wet rock. Henry escaped injury with the exception of a scratched chin.

This accident lacked serious consequences due to the fact that Henry managed to stay on his stomach and did not tumble which would have resulted in a much greater velocity. Taking the victim down the remainder of the face did not require any rescue techniques other than a belayed rappel.

Source: Raymond Jacquot, President (University of Wyoming Outing Club).

Analysis: The party should not have been on the rock during this foul weather. This was unavoidable as the weather was fair when the climb was started. The rock, normally not dangerous, became very slippery when wet due to the presence of lichens.

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