American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Falling Rock, Inadequate Protection, Rappel Failure, Bad Weather — Colorado, Hallett Peak

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1983

FALLING ROCK, INADEQUATE PROTECTION, RAPPEL FAILURE, BAD WEATHER

Colorado, Hallet Peak

On August 29, 1982, David Dangle (23) and David Miller (24) were climbing the Northcutt-Carter route on Hallett Peak. While they were doing the second pitch, a severe rainstorm hit and they were forced to retreat. They found a large rock horn with several slings wrapped on it and, after testing the soundness of the anchor, decided to use it for a rappel anchor. Miller, who rappelled first, went about 20 meters to a ledge and waited. Dangle then started his rappel; when he had gone down about six meters, he looked up and saw the entire rock horn falling out. Dangle fell about six meters, hit a ledge, bounced off it and fell onto another ledge. Meanwhile, the rock horn tipped 180 degrees, fell and landed top first in the dirt on another ledge, where it imbedded itself. The slings and rappel rope that were still attached to the rock eventually kept Dangle from falling more than 50 meters to the base of the wall. Dangle and Miller continued their descent without assistance. Dangle sustained a deep laceration to his knee in the fall. (Source: Charlie Logan, Rocky Mountain National Park)

Analysis

Perhaps the presence of several old slings resulted in the climbers making a less critical judgment of the anchor than they otherwise might have. Many of the “standard” descent routes all over the continent have old slings, bolts and pitons in place. Treating each as if it had never been used before is recommended. (Source: J. Williamson)

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