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Fall on Rock, Failure to Follow Route, Failure of Nut, West Virginia, Seneca Rocks


West Virginia, Seneca Rocks

On June 5, 1983, Brian Garrity was leading out on the first pitch of Conn’s East (5.4) when he got off route and found himself on much harder rock, somewhere in the vicinity of Soler. He lost his grip and fell. The topmost piece of protection held only long enough to turn Garrity upside down before it failed, resulting in a fall of about 12 meters. He hit a ledge headfirst on the way down. After dangling at the end of his rope for a few seconds, head down, Garrity got himself turned upright, but then found himself in serious trouble. He was bleeding considerably from cuts on his head and face, and needed to get off the wall as quickly as possible; however, his climbing rope had gotten jammed and his belayer, John Gorde, was unable to lower him down.

Lin Murphy and Parker Hill rushed to the fallen climber’s aid and began the rescue operations. Hill rappelled down to the injured man while Murphy lowered another rope and set up an anchor for lowering the climber to Broadway Ledge. After tying a new rope to the accident victim, Murphy gently lowered him, while Parker assisted, preventing further injury.

On Broadway Ledge, Sallie Greenwood began administering first aid while others went to notify the authorities and obtain a Stokes litter from The Gendarme. Others set up the necessary anchors and pulleys for lowering the Stokes litter.

The victim was then transported down to Roy Gap Road where he was placed in a vehicle and taken to a hospital in Petersburg. Later it was learned that Garrity’s skull had been fractured. (Source: Peter Grant in Up Rope, Volume 38, No. 6–7, June–July 1983)