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Slip on Wet Rock, Belay Failure, No Hard Hat, Inexperience, Colorado, McGregor Slab

SLIP ON WET ROCK, BELAY FAILURE, NO HARD HAT, INEXPERIENCE

Colorado, McGregor Slab

Late in the afternoon on July 10, 1983, Bob Gatzemeyer (29) lost control of his rappel while descending McGregor Slab, tumbled and fell free about five meters, landing on his side and back. He sustained multiple cuts, abrasions and contusions.

The party reported they had been climbing in rain and that their equipment and the rock were very wet. Gatzemeyer was rappelling on a figure eight backed up by a 5.5 mm prusik sling. He was also being belayed from above on a separate rope. Whether they were rappelling on a single or a double rappel rope is unknown. (Source: Charlie Logan, Rocky Mountain National Park)

Analysis

Gatzemeyer apparently slipped on wet rock and lost control of the rappel rope. The prusik now failed to cinch up and Gatzemeyer’s belayer failed to protect the fall. While Gatzemeyer was experienced, his partner acknowledged that she was a beginner. Gatzemeyer was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, but indicated that he had learned a lesson and would wear one on all future climbs. (Source: Charlie Logan, Rocky Mountain National Park)