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Fall on Rock, Faulty Use of Belay Device, Ontario, Milton, Rattlesnake Point


Ontario, Milton, Rattlesnake Point

On April 27, 1985, a climber (30) with some experience was leading a pitch, belayed by someone (25-30) who had never climbed before. He found the pitch too difficult, fell, and shouted to his partner to hold him. From a height of about nine meters, he fell through the branches of a tree and hit the ground. It was later determined that he suffered a basal skull fracture, a cervical fracture, and internal injuries.

Meanwhile, the belayer was in a state of shock, and did not understand what happened. From the way he was holding the belay device (a Sticht Plate), it was obvious he had taken the correct action when the fall occurred. However, the device was connected to the wrong end of the ropeā€”the end nearest the belayer, not the end nearest the climber.

The victim died in August having never regained consciousness. (Source: Brian Hibbert, Toronto)


The belayer did not know how to set up the belay device, and the climber neglected to make certain that it was connected correctly. The belayer should have been positioned on the ground, rather than on a small ledge. Using a Sticht Plate is not the best way for a beginner to belay, since stopping a leader fall with this device takes a degree of experience. (Source: Brian Hibbert, Toronto)