FALL ON ROCK, INADEQUATE PROTECTION
California, Yosemite Valley
On May 5,1986, Yasuhiro Fujira (21) from Kyoto, Japan, fell to his death from the belay ledge of a climb called “Catchy” on Cookie Cliff. He had completed the climb, as had his partner, Nozomi Hori, when he lowered to the ground. He was preparing to descend when the accident occurred. (Source: Michael Murray, SAR Officer, Yosemite National Park)
There was no equipment failure found, either at the fixed anchor or with Yasuhiro’s personal equipment.
When Yasuhiro lowered Hori down the climb, Yasuhiro was tied into the anchor with his own purple sling and his figure-8 was attached by carabiner directly to the fixed anchor slings for belaying/lowering Hori. A few minutes later, when Yasuhiro and the rope fell, he was not connected to the rope, and his figure-8 was not attached to his sit harness as though prepared for rappelling, and his purple tie-in sling was being carried over his shoulder as climbers normally carry equipment to keep it out of the way.
It appears that Yasuhiro unhooked himself from the anchor point after lowering Hori to the ground, then slipped and fell while preparing to rappel.
This type of accident is preventable if the climber remains hooked into his anchor until he has completely prepared the rope for rappelling and has actually hooked his rappel device to the ropes. After double-checking to ensure that the rope is correctly run through the fixed anchor slings, that his rappel device is correctly attached to the rope and secured to his sit harness, and that all carabiners involved are closed (and locked in locking-type), then the climber can safely unhook his belay sling from the anchor and rappel. (Source: Michael Murray, SAR Officer, Yosemite National Park)