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

Slip, Fall from Tower, Inadequate Belay, British Columbia, Expo 86-Alberta Pavilion

SLIP, FALL FROM TOWER, INADEQUATE BELAY

British Columbia, Expo 86-Alberta Pavilion

On June 17, 1986, the daily demonstration climbing of the Alberta Pavilion at Expo 86 had been suspended after a Calgary woman fell and broke her left ankle while scaling a 14 meter tower with a safety line that was too long.

Lori Kofhowski (22), a member of the University of Calgary climbing team, slipped and fell about four meters Sunday while scaling the tower on the three tiered pavilion.

Officials said she crashed feet first onto the roof of a lower section, breaking her left ankle and bones in her right foot.

Butch Greer, the leader of the University of Calgary climbing team, said Kofhowski slipped at the worst possible moment.

Small boards are bolted at random points along the side of the wooden tower to provide the climbers with the handholds and footholds. (Source: The Seattle Times, June 17, 1986)

Analysis

This climbing site, like “The Matterhorn” in Disneyland, could be considered a practice cliff and part of climbing’s adjunct known as “buildering.” When an accident happens in a setting like this, it only serves to reinforce the general notion among the non-climbing public that the sport is dangerous and that safety precautions do not work. This accident demonstrates that all the normal precautions of the sport need to be applied to these situations. (Source: J. Williamson)