American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

California, Yosemite, Washington Column

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1972

California, Yosemite, Washington Column. On 4 September Ralph Love (36), and Rex Allen Spaith, Jr., were attempting the South Face of Washington Column. Ralph led the pitch off Dinner Ledge, and was at the base of the roof, trying to figure out how to get to Layton Kor’s first bolt. Spaith implored Ralph to get higher than his bottom rung in his aid slings, but Ralph informed him that balance was a problem. As he saw that he could never reach the bolt, he decided to place a pin in the roof, and from this pin, reach to the first bolt. The crack was very poor, and soon Ralph was stacking pins. Ralph later told Spaith that the problem was that he did not have a third hand. He needed to (1) hold onto the bolt he was standing on, (2) hold onto the pins he was driving, and (3) hold onto the hammer. But alas, he could only do two of these tasks, so he opted not to hold onto the pins as he drove them. If one tilts his head back, and looks at the ceiling, and then gently feels his mouth, one will notice that his mouth is open, and his teeth are exposed. While Ralph was driving the stack, he was watching them, and his mouth too was open, and when the stack fell out, which it did, one of the pins fell straight down and hit Ralph in the mouth cleanly breaking off one of his upper, left, lateral incisors. Ralph was so distraught after this that they abandoned the climb and came down.

Source: Rex Allen Spaith, Jr.

This ANAM article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.