American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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Colorado, Dome Peak, Boulder Canyon

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1961

Colorado, Dome Peak, Boulder Canyon—On August 7, Dan Sawtelle (17) and Larry West (17) climbed Dome Peak. They established a rappel by driving in two pitons and running a sling between them. West rappelled first successfully. Sawtelle then rappelled. As soon as he applied his weight a piton pulled out and he fell nearly vertically 75 feet to the ground. He sustained a broken jaw, and skin injuries, as well as being knocked unconscious. A prompt rescue was effected by persons in the vicinity and he was hospitalized in 30 minutes. He was in the hospital two weeks.

Source: Ed Anderson and Bill Davis.

Analysis: They had rigged their rappel anchor in such a manner that if either piton came out, the rappel rope would not be anchored to anything. Also the first man successfully rappelled; the second man apparently did not check the anchor before he rappelled. Perhaps if he had done so he would have seen that it was loose because it pulled out just after he put his weight on it. The party was in a hurry to get down and had not eaten lunch. The climb had been difficult for the party and it had taken longer than the climbers had expected. Again this accident happened in the afternoon to a party that “got careless” and tried to hurry and whose members were tired and fatigued from a climb that was near the limit of their ability.

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