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Fall on Rock, Failure to Place Protection — New York, Shawangunks


New York, Shawangunks

On August 15, 1982, a male climber (25) fell while leading the second pitch of Dennis (5.5). The climber had been in the sport for about five months, leading up to 5.6 and seconding to 5.9. After leaving the belay ledge, he climbed into a fixed pin just below the crux and continued through what he considered to be the hardest section of the climb. He arrived at a resting position and, rather than placing a piece, he decided that he could push on to easier terrain. He proceeded for several more feet and realized that his legs were cramping up. He did not realize that he was falling until he passed the piton, some three meters below. The total fall, after striking a ledge, was approximately six to eight meters. The ledge was about two meters from where he came to rest. There were two active climbing parties nearby; I was in the second and below the fall. The first group, above the fall, were able to traverse a ledge and aid the belayer. The climber was lowered approximately 30 meters to the ground; he was still conscious and facing away from the wall in a rappelling stance. His injuries included multiple fractures of the arm and wrist, lacerations to the lower jaw, and considerable lacerations to one upper thigh. As of February 1983, the climber is in his fifth cast, with two pins holding his arm and wrist together. (Source: Chris Wyman)


The severity of the fall could have been lessened if additional protection had been placed. If the climber had not hit the ledge, it is quite possible that the fixed pin might have failed. (Source: Chris Wyman)