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Fall on Rock, Inadequate Protection, Inadequate Belay, Inexperience, California, Yosemite Valley



California, Yosemite Valley

On October 25,1986 at 1410, Ranger Torrie Finley reported to dispatch that a climber had fallen in the Church Bowl area. Rangers Jim Tucker, Torrie Finley, Jerry Bronson, and Tony Lue responded to the accident. On our arrival we found the victim in moderate distress at the bottom of the climb Deja Thourus (5.10a). Don Davis (38) had fallen out of the roof on the climb.

Information gathered at the scene suggested that Davis was at the crux of the climb and became fatigued while attempting to get over the roof. He fell and his last piece of protection pulled, allowing him to fall approximately seven to eight meters. His belayer failed, allowing him to fall another seven to eight meters. Davis landed on a small ledge about eight meters above the ground, at which time the belayer was assisted by another climber who then lowered Davis to the ground. (Source: Jerry Bronson, Ranger, Yosemite National Park)


Penny Davis (29) who was the belayer, had no previous experience climbing or belaying a climber. She did not understand the belay system or how it worked. Penny was not tied in, nor was she in a position to arrest a fall.

Davis had never climed a 5 10a before. His climbing experience was less than a year. (Source: Jerry Bronson, Ranger, Yosemite National Park)