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Falling Rock, Washington, Snoqualmie Pass

FALLING ROCK

Washington, Snoqualmie Pass

On June 24, 1987, my partner and I (48) had climbed 50 meters of a Class 4 chimney of Chair Peak. Then we came to an easy section. I coiled the rope around my neck and started to angle up. Just as I got directly below her, she shouted,

Rock! Looking up, I saw a large rock sliding toward me. I watched for a second to see which way to move. Then it started to tumble and hit some other rocks. Then there were several rocks flying through the air. I made a desperate leap but was hit square on the top of the head (helmeted), and tumbled backwards. I fell 50 meters and wrapped around a tree. This resulted in a fractured arm and fibula, an ankle dislocation, and a punctured lung.

My partner was on her second climb, but she managed to do three rappels and down-climbed some Class III rock to get out for help. She met another climber who hurried out and called the rescue unit. I was seven hours from accident to rescue. (Source: Howard Armstrong)

Analysis

Now I have even greater respect for what I already knew was the greatest danger in the mountains rockfall. I try never to climb above or below another person unless we are very close and there isn’t any choice. In this case we weren’t in an area that seemed dangerous and I was only beneath her for a few seconds, but that was enough. (Source: Howard Armstrong)