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Falling Rock, California, Mount Whitney

FALLING ROCK California, Mount Whitney

On July 29, 1989, Rob Weingruber (22) and Walker White (23) were climbing the East Face route on Mount Whitney. They had reached the Grand Staircase (about 1500 meters below the summit) when Rob was struck on the helmet and back by a basketball-sized rock. The rock had been dislodged by the rope of a team climbing above them. The team whose rope had dislodged the rock quickly climbed down to help. They found Rob unconscious. While bringing Walker up to their level, Rob regained consciousness. He complained of back pain and was bleeding from the mouth. It was decided that Rob may have suffered a broken back and internal injuries. Walker stayed with Rob while the other two climbers went for help. It was later determined that while Rob would have a sore head and back for a while, there were no significant injuries, but the rescue team was pretty concerned in the meantime. Rob still needed assistance to reach the summit, which was provided by CLMRG and others. (Source: Dennis Burge, China Lake Mountain Rescue Group)

Analysis

This is a popular route with lots of parties so everyone must be more careful. Rob would have sustained much more severe injuries had he not been wearing a saftey helmet. (Source: Dennis Burge, China Lake Mountain Rescue Group)