American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Failure to Follow Route, Failure to Test Holds, Falling Rock, California, Mount Whitney

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1988

FAILURE TO FOLLOW ROUTE, FAILURE TO TEST HOLDS,

FALLING ROCK

California, Mount Whitney

On July 27, 1987, Hummie Mann (31) and Sean Collinsworth had gotten off route in descending to Long Ledge. They realized their mistake, so Collinsworth climbed back up and started to belay Mann up the route. Partway up Mann’s handhold pulled and a boulder “the size of a refrigerator” peeled away from the rest of the wall. The boulder tore his jacket to pieces and smashed his leg, and then continued down the mountain. Collinsworth lowered Mann back down to a ledge, where they yelled for help. (Source: Linda Finco, China Lake Mountain Rescue Group)

Analysis

The main cause of the accident was being off route. The route is well defined in many route guides, so the climbers should have had sufficient information. However, the East Face route itself is prone to rockfall, so care must be taken even when on route. (Source: Linda Finco, China Lake Mountain Rescue Group)

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