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Fall on Rock, Off Route, Inadequate Protection, No Hard Hat, Inexperience, New Hampshire, Franconia Notch

FALL ON ROCK, OFF ROUTE, INADEQUATE PROTECTION, NO HARD HAT, INEXPERIENCE

New Hampshire, Franconia Notch

On August 4, 1989, two climbers (both 35) from Philadelphia were having obvious trouble on the Whitney-Gilman Ridge (5.7). We chose a 5.8 variation, and they decided to follow us. I was belaying a client on the last pitch. The leader of that party fell without a sound. He was unconscious for two minutes, upside down, hanging from a piton. His belayer didn’t know what to do. I rappelled down and raised the injured climber to the top. He had a broken arm, many lacerations, and a sprained ankle. He asked several times, “What happened?” After a three-and-a-half hour walk to the car, we took him to the hospital in Plymouth. (Source: Jim Shinberg)

Analysis

When I saw the climber upside down, bleeding, and unconscious, I was thinking that he was dead. Luckily, he had clipped to an old fixed pin before falling. His last piece of protection was ten to 15 meters below that. He was fortunate to have escaped with relatively minor injuries. The several sutures taken on the head lacerations could have been prevented by wearing the hard hat that was in his pack. (Source: Jim Shinberg)