American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Failure of Piton and Nut, Colorado, Mt. Royal

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

FALL ON ROCK, FAILURE OF PITON AND NUT

Colorado, Mt. Royal

On Saturday, June 23, the Summit County Rescue Group (SCRG) and the Frisco Fire Department spent a long afternoon rescuing Bob French (47) from a rock face near Frisco.

French, a Breckenridge attorney and member of SCRG, was climbing a 10,385-foot point just north of the summit of Mt. Royal near the mouth of Ten Mile Canyon. About 12:15 p.m., he was leading a pitch 50 feet above his climbing partner, Neil Haglov, when he fell 40 feet pulling his protection. He suffered a compound dislocation of his right ankle.

Haglov, the SCRG medical director also from Breckenridge, tied French’s rope off to prevent him from falling further, then lowered French a short distance to a small ledge, where Haglov splinted the injured leg.

Haglov then lowered French another 30 feet down the rock face to a larger ledge, where the two climbers were more comfortable. Waving and yelling, Haglov attracted the attention of two bicyclists on the bike path in Ten Mile Canyon. The bicyclists rode into Frisco and reported the incident to the Frisco Fire Department.

Using the public address system on a fire department vehicle while the climbers on the mountain used gestures to respond to questions, the fire department personnel were able to confirm that one of the climbers had injured his leg. SCRG and the fire department then responded with several people who went up to the base of the rock face. French’s leg was resplinted with a Stevens Pass splint, then Haglov and Jon Gunson of SCRG brought French down the last 70 feet to the base of the cliff. Members of the SCRG and fire department then evacuated him the rest of the way. (Source: Dave Thorson, Summit County Rescue Group)

Analysis

French pondered his move for ten to 15 minutes, recognizing the limits of his ability and that his protection might not hold if he fell. He took the calculated risk and lost. (Source: Dave Thorson, from a conversation with French)

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