American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Protection Pulled Out, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park

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

FALL ON ROCK, PROTECTION PULLED OUT

Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park

On April 15, 1985, about 1215, David Boles (30) took a five meter lead climbing fall while attempting the first pitch of a technical climb on the South Face of Sundance in an area known as “The Needles.” He was being belayed by his friend and climbing partner, Mary Bee. Boles was in a crack and attempting a move when he apparently lost his hand hold and footing and fell. He had placed one piece of protection before the fall just below his location—a small Friend. When he fell, the protection pulled out with little resistance and he free-fell to the base of the climb. The belay did not absorb any appreciable amount of the impact of the fall. Boles landed on a rock protruding from the ground, striking the rock with the back of his head, his neck and shoulders. Bee attempted to assist Boles down the mountain toward their vehicle. At 1314, Boles was unable to continue and Bee left him to summon help. At 1336, Bee reached the McGregor Ranch and telephoned for assistance. Units from the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, Estes Park Police Department, Estes Park Volunteer Fire Department, and hospital ambulance responded in addition to the National Park Service. He was treated by a hospital paramedic and carried out to the road on a backboard and transported by ambulance to the Estes Park Hospital. The final diagnosis was a basilar skull fracture. (Source: Patrick Reed, Ranger, Rocky Mountain National Park)

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