American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Harness Failure, California, Yosemite Valley

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1980

FALL ON ROCK, HARNESS FAILURE

California, Yosemite Valley

On April 15, Sonny Cubillo (28) and David Wilson (19) were climbing the direct route on Reed Pinnacle. Cubillo was leading the second pitch, and was approximately 60 feet above his belayer when he fell. His harness failed at the point of rope attachment, and he fell approximately 150 feet to the ground. The haul rope attached to his waist became snarled in a tree and absorbed most of the fall. When Cubillo struck the ground, he was knocked unconscious for a few minutes. Evacuation was made by NPS personnel. Cubillo suffered no major injuries. (Source: Hal Grovert, SAR Officer, Yosemite National Park)

Analysis

Cubillo’s harness (Whillans model) was approximately 2½ years old. No other signs of wear show in the harness. Cubillo was only tied into one point on the harness. As it was one of the original harnesses, it did not have the waist tie-ins that the newer harnesses have. Continual check of harness stitching is necessary for safety. Also, if harnesses were stitched with a different color of thread than the webbing, it would be easier to tell wear in stitching. (Source: Hal Grovert, SAR Officer, Yosemite National Park)

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