American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Rappel Failure, Inadequate Protection — Utah, Diamond Fork

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

RAPPEL FAILURE, INADEQUATE PROTECTION

Utah, Diamond Fork

On September 24, 1982, Lyal Holder (56) was the course instructor for a beginning rock-climbing class from Brigham Young University’s Education Department. The class was practicing rappelling. The victim was making his second descent. Each member of the class had made one descent on the rope which was anchored around a rock. Witnesses described the victim as moving down three meters, then “fidgeting” with the rope, as if there were a problem. The rope then “popped” off of the anchor rock. The victim fell about 20 meters and died instantly. (Source: Dr. Richard Wallin, Salt Lake City)

Analysis

Repeated rappels, especially when made by inexperienced people, call for back-up protection in the form of anchors. It is also common practice to belay rappellers, including the instructor. (Source: J. Williamson)

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