American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock on Descent—After Freeing Rappel Rope, Loss of Concentration, Unroped

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1989


Colorado, International Wall

On June 25, 1988, a 175 meter route was completed on a granite wall (International Wall) approximately one half mile west of Shoshone Dam. The first rappel was completed by both members of the party. The rope became stuck on the pull down for the second rappel. Mike Collett (32) undipped from webbing and free climbed back up and freed the rope. Upon descent, he stepped on moss and fell 18 meters. Falling into a chute of a chimney, he caught some webbing with his arm at the same time his partner broke his fall out of the chute. Between the two, the descent was stopped. (Source: Mike Collett)


I had been on the wall at times before, often solo. My concentration was not there. I let my guard down and concentration wander. Putting in a pin or piece of protection and using the rope to descend instead of down climbing would have been much safer and wiser. The climb is never completed until you are safely down, no matter the level of your skill. One should never mentally leave the climb until physically down. I was fortunate; I had an excellent rescue group attend to me and therefore am able to climb again! (Source: Mike Collett)

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