American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Carabiner Failure, Colorado, Arthur's Rock

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

FALL ON ROCK, CARABINER FAILURE

Colorado, Arthur’s Rock

On April 22, 1979, John Newman and Phyllis Kawanabe were climbing an unnamed route on the south side of Arthur’s Rock, three miles west of Fort Collins, Colorado. At 2 p.m. Kawanabe established a belay for the second pitch on a wide ledge. Newman led 30 feet up a vertical crack to a small bulge. He placed a #8 stopper in the crack below the bulge and climbed the one-inch webbing sling directly to the climbing rope with an Eiger oval carabiner. He then climbed up about one more foot and reached over the bulge.

Newman lost his only foothold before he was able to find a grip. Kawanabe saw him slip and immediately took up all the slack in her grasp. Newman fell straight down, and the stopper held. Both climbers estimate that the fall was no more than seven feet; possibly less. Newman suffered only minor injuries and the loss of his glasses. He was able to climb back up the crack after resting on tension for two or three minutes.

When he reached the Eiger carabiner attached to the nut which had held, Newman saw that the gate was sprung and had jammed outside the body of the carabiner. The pin and notch were intact and apparently undamaged. There was enough room to slide the webbing of the nut sling free of the carabiner. Newman then downclimbed, showed the carabiner to Kawanabe, and put it into a pack. They completed the climb on a parallel route and retrieved the stopper on rappel. (Source: J. Newman and P. Kawanabe)

Analysis .

The carabiner gate was up and out when Newman placed it. Both climbers think that the articulation of the carabiner was vertical (correct) when it held the fall. There was no apparent damage to the Mammut kernmantle rope. The total weight of Newman, his clothing and his gear was no more than 170 pounds. (Source: J. Newman and P. Kawanabe)

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