AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Fall on Rock, Nut/Cam Pulled Out, Inadequate Belay — Colorado, Boulder Canyon


Colorado, Boulder Canyon

On June 4, 1984, Jay Kenney (28) and Doug Mallach (25) were climbing Bitty Buttress (5.8-) when Kenney fell. In Kenney’s words, “We had completed three pitches without incident. Belayed at large ledge below crux pitch. At crux move approximately 12 meters above ledge, I fell off, and somehow imparted a horizontal vector to fall, thus causing last two pieces of protection (#6 stopper and small tricam) to pull. I fell just past the belay ledge and struck a small ledge one meter below, landing in an upright stance. Inexplicably, belayer had not tied in, and was dragged one or two meters across ledge, probably the difference between hitting a ledge and not. The belayer still managed to break fall somewhat. We treated each other for lacerations and abrasions, traversed off, hobbled down to the road, and drove to Denver for medical treatment, where it was discovered that I had also fractured my left hand.” (Source: Jay Kenney)


Belayer should have tied in. Costly mistake. Protection should have been placed to avoid horizontal as well as vertical pull. There was no deformation of stopper or tricam. Fall caught by wired Forrest copper wedge, which was badly deformed, unable to remove. (Source: Jay Kenney)