American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Colorado, Third Flatiron

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1969

Colorado, Third Flatiron. On 5 June the first member of a party of two rappelled from the “Sugar Bowl” on the west side of the Third Flatiron to “Friday’s Folly Ledge.” The anchor used was a large stable boulder about 6 feet in diameter. It has been used many times by many climbers. There is a groove around it about a third of the way from the top. When the first man reached the ledge and was off rappel, the other asked that he try pulling on one of the two rope ends to see if they would be able to retrieve the rappel rope after the second man reached the ledge. The rope would not pull around the rock. The victim called down that he would relocate the rope so that it would slide better. A second test proved successful and the victim, John Amesse (25), got on rappel. Immediately, he was seen flying past the ledge—rope and all in a 200 foot vertical fall. Apparently, he had moved the rope higher on the rock, to permit it to be pulled down later, but in the process of beginning the rappel, the angle of pull must have slipped the rope off the rock.

Source: Charles Demarest.

Analysis: Knowledge of the 3rd Flatiron would have made this rappel unnecessary. They planned three rappels to get off, and the first two can be done in one with the rope they had.

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