American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Falls on Rock, New York, Shawangunks

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


New York, Shawangunks

Of the 26 accidents which occurred from falls in this climbing area, most occurred to leaders. The three which happened to following climbers did not result in serious injury, but one could have, in that the young man (17) fell over 30 meters to the ground seconding Frog’s Head (5.5). There was one fatality, one flail chest, two tension pneumothoraxes, 11 climbers with fractures, and a variety of less serious injuries. The climbs varied in difficulty from 5.3 to 5.11, the average age of the victims was 29, and all but four were males. Because of the length of most of the falls, it would seem that inadequate protection played a part in the contributory cause of the resulting injuries. One climber’s fall was precipitated by wasp stings. There were more climbers than ever this year, with an average of 500 per weekend during the peak seasons.

On October 31, 1987, Peter Sajovic (42) and John Thackray (52) were on their way down to a rappel point after a climb when Sajavic lost his footing about six meters from the top of the cliff. He fell 30 meters to his death, landing in a rock crevice. They were roped together at the time, and because Thackray fell on the other side of a tree from Sajovic, and because a branch snagged the rope, he only went 10 or 12 meters. He suffered fractured ribs and a pneumothorax. Both were exerienced climbers. (Source: Tom Scheuer, Senior Ranger, Mohonk Preserve, and J. Williamson)

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