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Fall on Rock, Failure to Test Holds — British Columbia, Coast Mountains, Stawamus Chief

FALL ON ROCK, FAILURE TO TEST HOLDS

British Columbia, Coast Mountains, Stawamus Chief

Jim Brennan (20) and Bruce Macdonald, both experienced climbers, were climbing Uncle Ben’s route (5.8, A3) on Stawamus Chief on August 1, 1983. They were nearing the top of the route on the 300 meter face and Brennan, who was leading, had moved out of his etriers to grasp a narrow ledge above, when both handholds broke away. He fell five meters before being held by Macdonald, and sustained a broken wrist, cuts and bruises when he bounced against the face.

An impromptu rescue team, composed of six other climbers in the vicinity, ascended the backside trail, traversed Bellygood Ledge and raised Brennan 30 meters to Dance Platform. Three other climbers were helicoptered to the south summit. They dropped down the trail to the south end of Bellygood where they fixed ropes across to Dance Platform. Brennan, whose arm had been splinted, was belayed fore and aft and clipped into the fixed rope for crossing the ledge. A short Tyrolean was necessary at the south end. The helicopter was summoned by radio and picked the injured climber off the slabs above Tantalus Wall. He arrived at Squamish Hospital at 1800, about six hours after the accident. (Source: I. Kay from press reports, A. Ourom BCMC News Letter)

Analysis

Stawamus Chief has a local reputation for extremely sound rock; this may have led to overconfidence. This was the first serious rescue on the mountain, and it is fortunate that it occurred in perfect conditions and with a climber having relatively minor injuries. (Source: I Kay, A. Ourom)