American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Climbing Unroped, No Hard Hat, British Columbia, Squamish, Little Smoke Bluffs

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1982


British Columbia, Squamish, Little Smoke Bluffs

On March 12, 1981, Clayton Maitland (19) was attempting to free solo a 40-foot-high thin crack called Flying Circus which is graded 5.10. He did not seem to be having any difficulty but suddenly fell out of the crack from about 30 feet up, landing on boulders at the bottom. He suffered a broken wrist, a dislocated elbow with severely pinched nerves, a concussion, unconsciousness, and extensive small cuts and bruises.

Maitland was climbing alone but, fortunately, the fall was seen by one of a group of geology students who were just leaving the area. One of the students immediately ran for help, while the teacher and another student applied first aid. (Source: F. Baumann Mountain Rescue Group)


Free soloing does not allow any room for error. The crucial point is that he was climbing by himself. Had it not been for the witnesses who happened to be there, the outcome might have been much more serious. Without prompt treatment, including an operation, he might have lost the use of his arm. The use of a hard hat would have helped to prevent the head injuries. (Source: F. Baumann, Mountain Rescue Group)

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