Washington, Peshastin Pinnacles. On 28 June Jim Nieland and Gerald Calbaum (32) were climbing Peshastin Pinnacles. Jim Nieland led the direct west face of Dinosaur Tower. He reached the upper ledge where he belayed Calbaum. The latter clipped into the rope with a standard carabiner from his waist sling to a figure-8-loop on the end of the climbing rope. Jerry had reached the 2/3 point where the pitch became steeper. He had previously called for tension with apparent plan to use the rope for direct aid in the next move. Russ Maynard who was photographing the climb had noticed that he had taken up a slight amount of slack about the time he called for tension. He suddenly called “falling” and skidded down the entire 50°-60° friction slab for about 75 feet with sudden arrest by pine tree at the base.
The belayer felt the rope go slack at the time of the fall. After the fall the figure-8-loop was still intact and the carabiner still on the waist sling around the climber.
Source: R. M. Maynard.
Analysis: Rope loop apparently became loose from carabiner during the temporary release of tension from the climbing rope. Accident would have been prevented by use of bowline-on-a-coil or a locking carabiner between the rope loop and the waist sling.
It is felt less likely that the climber accidentally unclipped from the climbing rope while snapping in retrieved carabiners with pitons.