American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Climbing Unroped, Inexperience — Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1985


Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park

On June 12, 1984, Paul Ormsby (23) and Michael Doroff (24) hiked to the base of MacGregor Slab intending only to hike up and around the backside of the mountain to the summit. Instead, they decided to free solo a route on the west side of the face. Ormsby climbed the route the year before using ropes and anchors. About 100 meters up the face, Ormsby reached a point where he could climb no higher and decided to down-climb back to Doroff, about three meters below him. While repositioning his stance, Ormsby peeled off, slid and tumbled to the base of the wall sustaining fatal injuries in the fall. (Source: Charlie Logan, Ranger, Rocky Mountain National Park)


Ormsby apparently had logged just enough experience to foster a dangerous level of confidence yet not enough experience or instruction to recognize the hazards and possible consequences of an unprotected mistake. “Rock scrambling” by Park visitors with little or no experience seems often to go too far before realizing their tenuous position. They are then forced to fatal or near-fatal commitments. (Source: Charlie Logan, Ranger, Rocky Mountain National Park)

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