American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Colorado, Boulder, Second Flatiron

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

Colorado, Boulder, Second Flatiron—On November 5, John Barry (27) and Cleveland Bell were climbing the overhang at the bottom of the summit block of the second Flatiron, southwest of Boulder. This pitch is strenuous but it is normally climbed without tension. This party, however, was using doublerope tension and stirrups.

Barry had nearly reached the top of the overhang and had driven a piton and suspended a stirrup from it. When he stepped into this stirrup, the piton pulled out and he fell about 20 feet through the air and hit the sloping rock before the rope through a lower piton stopped him.

The belayer lowered Barry, who was unconscious, to a ledge, rappelled over to him, tied Barry to himself and rappelled a further 120 feet to a safe ledge. By this time, Barry had partly recovered consciousness. The belayer, Cleveland Bell, secured Barry and went down for help. He phoned the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group personnel who reached the victim 15 minutes after Bell did. The victim was evacuated by Stokes litter to the road at Bluebell Shelter Cabin and immediately taken to the hospital. He had suffered a concussion, and fractures of his left shoulder blade and left transverse processes of his five lumbar vertebrae.

Source: Ed Anderson, Harold Walton.

Analysis: No special comment is indicated except that tension techniques were being used where they were not needed.

This ANAM article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.