FALL ON ROCK, PITON AND NUT FAILURE
Ontario, Bon Echo Park
Mike Tschipper (16) was leading the last pitch, grade 5.10, of a route on Mazinaw Rock in the late afternoon of 16 October 1977. Neither he nor his belayer, Rob Rohn (19), were wearing hard hats. Tschipper was using the pins in place for protection as he had none himself. After the first difficult section he traversed above a large tree, which acted as a running belay. He then placed a #4 hexentric before the crux move. The crux move, grade 5.10, was followed by a 5.10 overhang and he placed a #4 and #5 stopper deep inside a parallel crack until they seemed tight. He also clipped into an old 1/2-inch ring angle pin because it was higher and at least seemed to give some protection. He fell from the overhang, expecting to be caught by the pin beside him. It pulled out and so did the two nuts and the hexentric. He fell free about 80 feet and was stopped by his belayer and the rope over the tree. He pendulumed into a ramp, breaking his wrist as he tried to stop himself. (Source: Mike Tschipper, Rob Rohn)
This is yet another accident that shows that nuts can be much more difficult to place securely than pitons. It is a good idea before ever using them in “real life” to practice placing nuts and testing them by having weights fall on them. Also to be noted is that old pitons rust away, which sometimes causes them to come loose. They also undergo stress corrosion cracking (see ACC Gazette, May 1976, p. 9) which may reduce their strength almost to zero without showing any visible evidence.
It should be noted that the climber was fortunate in not sustaining any head injuries. (Source: Mike Tschipper, Rob Rohn, E. Whalley)