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Fall on Rock, Falling Rock, Inadequate Protection — Colorado, Hallett Peak

FALL ON ROCK, FALLING ROCK, INADEQUATE PROTECTION

Colorado, Hallett Peak

On June 9, 1982, Matthew Slater (19) and Jeffrey Cristol (18) were climbing Hallett Chimney (about 225 meters of mixed ice and rock) on Hallett Peak. They were about one lead from the top of the climb; Slater, who was leading, had run out about 40 meters of rope without any protection. About six meters from the top, the rock Slater was climbing on broke away and he fell approximately 65 meters. Cristol was able to take in about five arm-lengths of rope before bracing for the arrest which he successfully performed. Cristol lowered Slater to a small ledge and they remained in their respective locations the rest of the night waiting for help. Slater suffered a fractured femur, tibia and foot as well as multiple abrasions and bruises.

Neither climber was wearing a climbing helmet. Cristol caught the fall on a Sticht plate anchored to two nuts behind a flake. (Source: Charlie Logan, Rocky Mountain National Park)

Analysis

It is not known whether Slater tested the hold that broke away. As he suffered only minor injuries to his head, the fact that he was not wearing a helmet is an academic issue in this case. Both were carrying minimal equipment for a one-day big-wall climb. Their rescue was initiated the same evening because their parents reported them overdue. By 1430 on June 10, when the operation concluded with a helicopter flight to the hospital, 37 people had put in a total of 329 hours. (Source: Charlie Logan, Rocky Mountain National Park)