American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

New York, Shawangunks

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1965

New York, Shawangunks. On 9 May F. deMonterey (leader) with two companions decided to climb the “Twin Oaks.” The leader was familiar with the route and had led it the year before quite easily. The leader did not feel in good form, but felt that he had ample margin. On the first pitch, before reaching the first piton, about thirty feet up he had misgivings about his condition. He now began to look for possible piton cracks, but found nothing satisfactory. He traversed a little to the left toward the first pitch of “Northern Pillar,” with which he was also thoroughly familiar, in an attempt to find a more comfortable route because he had become aware that his foot was not up to par. On descending a few feet, on a traversing ledge, his left foot went numb at a critical moment when weight was placed on it. His hands were placed on somewhat rounded-off holds, downsloping and only about waist-high. His body began to slip, but his hands could not arrest the fall due to the character of the handholds. He fell approximately 15-20 feet onto the boulder slope, landing squarely on his left foot which emitted a resounding crack.

The fact that the wall inclines at about 80° held his fall in and prevented a completely free fall, thus lessening the effect of it. John Oster- ling went for help which arrived within a few minutes in the form of private guard Joe Donahue, with Stokes litter and truck. Several climbers in the area had congregated. The foot was splinted and the leader evacuated to the truck on the carriage road, and from there to his car. The whole evacuation to the car took about 30 minutes, with a belay in effect on the Stokes litter on the boulder slope, and five to six climbers surrounding the litter.

Source: Francis deMonterey.

Analysis: deMonterey had sprained his left ankle about 4 weeks previously and the night before the climb had not slept well. These factors added to the 180 mile drive prior to the climb could have led to the result. deMonterey believes that he should have heeded his vague inner promptings not to climb or at least not to have led that day.

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