American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Failure of Knot, Colorado, Lover's Leap

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

FALL ON ROCK, FAILURE OF KNOT

Colorado, Lover’s Leap

Pam Spence (31), Steve Locatelli and Magda King were scouting a technical route on Lover’s Leap on August 27. All three were experienced and all had climbed it before. They were trying new routes and found one. Pam had some trouble and pendulumed off the critical move. Having gained the top, she and King rappelled below the difficult part to try again. Again she had to pendulum off with an upper belay. Locatelli felt a vibration in the rope and saw her fall. Neither companion could remember what kind of knot she had tied in with, but the best guess, from the people who were with her and knew her style of climbing, is that she would have used a bowline to her seat harness. Because of fatigue, she probably didn’t tie the knot properly. The fall caused her immediate death. (Source: Mike Foster, Chairman of the Safety Committee of the Colorado Mountain Club, Denver Group)

Analysis

The only thing we could think of was to encourage greater use of the “buddy system,” especially under conditions of fatigue, stress, hazard or other difficulty. This accident shows that even experienced climbers can become rattled and need a buddy to check him or her out. (Source: Mike Foster, Chairman of the Safety Committee of the Colorado Mountain Club, Denver Group)

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