American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Inadequate Equipment, Inexperience – California, Yosemite Valley

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1978

INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT, INEXPERIENCE—California, Yosemite Valley. On November 4, while rappelling down Glacier Point Terrace, a standard descent route, Bert Miller (20) rappelled to the end of his rope and could see the next set of anchors below him. The route he was on was meant for a two-rope rappel and Miller was using a single rope doubled. Miller and his partner attempted to tie slings onto the rope to lengthen it. However, Miller was still ten feet short and had untied from the rope and ended up hanging from the rope by his arms which eventually gave out and he fell 600 feet to the ground. (Source: Tim Setnicka, Yosemite National Park.)

Analysis: The mistakes here are obvious. It is worth noting that this type of accident is extremely rare now, whereas ten years ago it was common to see two or three a year. Knotting the end of the rappel rope and attaching a prussik sling have become common practice. (Source: J. Williamson.)

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