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Falling Rock, Inadequate Protection, No Hard Hat, Ontario, Kelso Conservation Area


Ontario, Kelso Conservation Area

On July 8, 1979, John Pierce (21), Donald Campbell (21), and Donald Collier (21) were climbing on the 70-foot rock face at Kelso Conservation Area, near Toronto. This area is not particularly popular and there is no record of anyone having climbed the route that they were on. Pierce was leading the top section when he told his belayer that he felt sick and could not continue. He was then lowered from his last runner, which was a sling placed around a three- to four-inch-diameter tree. When Pierce was about five feet from the ground, the tree pulled out by the roots and, in the process, dislodged a 200-pound rock which hit Pierce on the head killing him instantly. (Source: Jim Mark, ACC Gazette, Autumn, 1979)


Tying runners around trees of this size is a common practice among climbers in this area. Although this is the first reported accident of this type, perhaps it is a practice that should be reconsidered by everyone.

Although it is unlikely that a hard hat would have made a difference in this particular case (because of the size of the rock), had the rock been smaller or the distance that it fell not so far, it could have made the difference between life and death. (Source: Jim Mark)