New York, Shawangunks

Publication Year: 1974.

New York, Shawangunks. On December 1st a student at the State University College in New Paltz was hiking with friends in the Trapps area. They followed a footpath to the top to enjoy the view. For the return the student elected to scramble down the cliff face, while his friends preferred the footpath. He lost his footing near the top and fell about sixty feet to the carriage road, landing a few yards west of the Keyhole. He died on December 5th at Albany Medical Center. (Source: Mohonk Trust.)

Analysis: Although this was not a mountaineering accident (and is not included in the statistics of this Report), it became known among Gunks climbers. News of the incident eventually reached Great Britain, where it was incorporated into a Mountain magazine article about Shawangunk developments: “With many of these new routes graded 5.11 and some possibly even harder, this burst of climbing has resulted in a new advance in standards in the region. However, increasing numbers and possibly the new ethics have also led to a rise in the number of accidents. One fatality and a number of other serious incidents are a sobering counterweight to the more progressive developments” (Mountain 32, p. 11). With respect to the fatality the conclusion drawn was incorrect, since the incident was entirely unrelated to rock climbing. At the Shawangunks in 1973 there were thirteen reported climbing accidents, of which three involved nut failure. None of the thirteen occurred on routes of unusual difficulty.

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