New Hampshire, Cannon Mountain

Publication Year: 1974.

New Hampshire, Cannon Mountain. On August 12th Dana Jones (age 27) and Mark Lawrence (24) were completing an ascent of Sam’s Swan Song. They had reached about the eighth pitch. According to another climbing party, Dana, in the lead, went slightly off route and fell when he pulled off some lose blocks. Mark’s belay anchor failed, and both climbers fell down the cliff until their rope caught around a spike of rock and suspended them high above the talus slope. Rescuers found them both dead. Neither was wearing a hard hat. The rescuers surmised that Dana had been killed by injuries sustained during the fall, including severe head damage, while Mark may have been strangled by his waistband, which was under his armpits, and by three wraps of the climbing rope around his neck. (Source: Appalachia, December 1973.)

Analysis: Both climbers were experienced and familiar with the area. The failure of the belay anchor has not been explained, but it obviously turned a potentially serious accident into a fatal one. Use of hard hats and (in Mark’s case) a seat harness might have lessened their injuries. Cannon Mountain is known for some loose rock.