American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

New York, Shawangunks

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

New York, Shawangunks. On 18 May deVries was leading on an overhang known as Shackley’s Ceiling near top of the cliffs. He was clipped into a piton just under the overhang by means of a sling and two carabi- ners. Neave was belaying deVries from a point somewhat below and 30-40 feet out to the side. Neave was tied into two pitons at about 90° to each other and about 6-8 feet from the stance position. Body belay (waist) was being used. deVries failed to negotiate the overhang and when his arms became tired he peeled off. The fall would have been only 8-10 feet if the sling had held. However, the knot in the sling pulled out and deVries fell 40-50 feet until held by Neave, deVries climbed back up to the belay position and the climb was completed (Neave leading) by bypassing the overhang.

Source: Roger Neave.

Analysis: If deVries had attempted to descend before his arms became too tired, the fall might have been avoided, although from the position reached it would not have been easy to make the return move. The length of the fall was greatly increased by an inadequately tied knot in the belay sling, which was woven nylon.

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