American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Stranded, Climbing Alone, Inexperience, California, Joshua Tree National Monument

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1990

STRANDED, CLIMBING ALONE, INEXPERIENCE California, Joshua Tree National Monument

On June 29,1989, my daughter and I were alerted by tourists that somebody was yelling for help on the back side of Intersection Rock. Upon inspection, we found a solo climber stranded approximately 20 meters off the ground on “The Flake” (5.8).

Not having climbed the route before, we found a climber in the vicinity who knew the route. We gave him enough equipment to facilitate reaching the subject. Our rescuer was able to get an end of rope to him.

I yelled and asked what kind of belt was holding his chalk bag on. He replied, “Nylon webbing tied with a square knot.” Thus we found out that he was a novice and had never tied in to a real belay.

Not to trust his web waist belt, we had him tie the rope end around his waist with three wraps and a square knot, with “lots of wraps” around the ends. This was all he could understand. Upon gaining confidence of the anchor from below, he climbed up a meter and clipped into a fixed bolt. He rested long enought to be lowered off the bolt to the ground. Our rescuer followed, and he cleaned the route. (Source: Pierre Bustanoby)


The victim, age 25, is one of many novices stranded and/or benighted in Joshua Tree this year. As has been mentioned before, this area attracts people with little or no experience because of its easy access. (Source: J. Williamson)

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