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Fall on Rock, No Hard Hat, No Belay, Inexperience, Virginia, Great Falls


Virginia, Great Falls

On August 2, 1987, Sandy Welle (26) and Christopher Ireland (26) were preparing to descend a route called Cornice when the following happened, according to Ireland:

I set up a top rope on the Cornice (5.7). I tied Sandy into a Swiss seat made out of 2.5 mm webbing and hooked her into a figure-eight rappel. I had Sandy start her rappel about a meter to the side of her anchor. She was planning to traverse directly underneath her anchor and rappel straight down. At the start of her rappel, her feet slipped and she swung into the wall head first, putting a gash in the top of her head. I called two other climbers over and they sent down a rope and we belayed Sandy up top without incident. (Source: Christopher Ireland)


A hard hat would have definitely prevented this injury. Since this was Sandy’s first time climbing, I should have started her rappel directly in front of her anchor. I should have also had her on a belay. Even though she did not lose consciousness, nor panic, if she had let go of the rope, the results of this accident would have been much worse. (Source: Christopher Ireland)