American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Crampon Came Off, Inadequate Protection, Fatigue

New Hampshire, Frankenstein Cliff

  • Accident Reports
  • Author: Saranne Taylor and Jeff Newsome
  • Accident Year: N/A
  • Publication Year: 1989

In January, as we approached the base of the Standard Climb on Frankenstein Cliff, we saw a male climber’s foot fang come off on snow and he scrambled to the foot of the climb. He appeared to have difficulty reattaching the crampon, then began climbing with his partner (female) belaying. He climbed eight meters on low angle ice, put in a screw, climbed another six meters. As the ice steepened, his crampon again came off. He shouted to belayer, “Are you tied in?” She was not. Time was taken while she tied in and he stood on one foot with two tools in ice. He then attempted to be lowered by belayer with the rope through a sling on his ice ax. He was lowered about a meter or so when the ax pulled out. He fell over backward about 12 meters and stopped when the ice screw held. (Source: Saranne Taylor and Jeff Newsome)


We talked with the climber who was only slightly bruised. He had had trouble with the poorly-fitting crampon on a previous outing, but had failed to make correcting adjustments. He said it was his first fall in 20 years of climbing, but he appeared to be inexperienced. He tired while his belayer tied in and may have hurried when putting in the ice ax anchor. He could have downclimbed on tension from belayer on one foot and one tool a short distance while testing the anchor, and put in a screw in the lower angle ice and reattached his crampon. (Source: Saranne Taylor and Jeff Newsome.)

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