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Falls on Rock, Inadequate Protection Placements, Failure of Nuts, Belay Failure, Colorado, Boulder and Eldorado Springs Canyons


Colorado, Boulder and Eldorado Springs Canyons

From the months of May through September, 1983, a total of 33 accidents were recorded and categorized by Dr. Cliff Watts. Rather than reporting them individually, this brief summary will provide a general impression of the primary aspects of these accidents.

The majority of these accidents, 29 in all, were falls, and the major contributing cause of injury was inadequate or improperly placed protection. Half the accidents were the result of individuals attempting difficult routes, both in terms of actual difficulty and in relation to the climber’s ability. The average age of this group was 26, of whom 29 were males. Seven of those injured were climbing alone and unroped. Two interesting situations were (a) a belayer who fell asleep on a ledge and failed to catch his partner, who fell 30 meters (with no major injury resulting), and (b) a climber who was driving a piton and splintered off a piece of metal which lodged in his eye.

Fourteen accidents resulted in fractures, including abrasions and lacerations, while the rest resulted in a variety of injuries, primarily abrasions and lacerations.

In future editions, we hope to have more reporting efforts like this reflected in order to provide a more complete picture of climbing accidents as the sport continues to grow. (Source: J. Williamson)