American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Failure of Rappel, Chocks Pulled Out, Inexperience, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Near Banff

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1986


Alberta, Rocky Mountains, near Banff

On May 26, 1985, an inexperienced climber (30) was beginning a rappel descent of the southwest face of Rundle Rock. When she committed her weight to the rope, her rappel anchor pulled out. She fell eight meters, landing with first impact on her left foot, and came to rest on her back on a patch of dirt. Her two climbing partners descended and moved her onto her left side. The other two climbers came to help, and one of them with first aid training examined her. She was conscious and alert, but in severe pain from her left heel and ankle, which were later found to be completely shattered. There were also some loosened teeth, a lacerated tongue, miner shock and minor concussion. (Her climbing partners also seemed to be in a mild state of shock from the experience. When first offered help, they replied that the victim would be “fine.”) The victim’s ankle was splinted, and an ambulance arrived. (Source: James Hinter and Karla Richards, Calgary and Banff)


This accident might have been avoided had the victim and her climbing party been more experienced in protection placement and better overall group communication. Everyone assumed that someone else in the group had checked the placement of the protection. Additionally, more injury could have been caused by moving the victim prior to the medical inspection. First aid knowledge should be a prerequisite for at least one member of any climbing party. (Source: James Hinter and Karla Richards, Calgary and Banff)

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