American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Rappel Anchor Failure, New Hampshire, Canon Cliff

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

RAPPEL ANCHOR FAILURE

New Hampshire, Canon Cliff

On October 16, 1988, Marc Fragge (23) and Joel Sunshine (24) were killed when the granite block they had anchored to apparently came off. One was rappelling and the other was tied off, waiting to rappel. (Source: Various reports—newspaper, New Hampshire Mountain Rescue Service, interviews)

Analysis

These climbers were about a hundred meters above the base of the cliff, near Weisner’s. They were experienced and had appropriate equipment. They apparently trusted their single anchor point. All five deaths which have occurred to experienced climbers on Canon have involved loose rocks. “Regulars” on Canon avoid rappelling for this reason. The scramble to the top from all climbs and the walk down are straightforward. Between the freeze/thaw cycle and the amount of dynamiting that has been done in Franconia Notch, loose rocks-large and small-are guaranteed to be part of every climb there. (Source: J. Williamson)

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