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Colorado, Third Flatiron

Colorado, Third Flatiron. On 22 February Franklin Lankford (20) started out at about 1:00 p.m. to make a solo winter climb of the Third Flatiron. In good weather the standard route is a fourth class friction climb on a 45 degree sandstone slab some 700 feet high. His friends said that he refused to let anyone accompany him in spite of their offers to do so, and insisted on making the climb alone. He carried rappelling gear and two 150 foot nylon ropes, and wore jeans, a ski parka, and cowboy boots. He had climbed the rock four times previously, including one solo climb. The rock was covered in spots by patches of snow or ice, the temperature was below freezing and there were occasional snow flurries. As reconstructed later, he slipped and fell when he was somewhere on the upper third of the face and off to the north from the normal route. From marks in the snow, the position of his coiled rope, and his body, he fell 200 feet or more. He died from severe skull fractures.

Source: Rodman Smythe.

Analysis: Aside from the obvious inadequacy of the victim s boots, the underlying causes of this accident were the factors which led the victim to make a do-or-die attempt on a treacherously icy rock climb. The exact psychological state of the victim when he began the climb is not known; however it is known that he was depressed and that he had failed his courses at the university.