American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Off Route, South Dakota, Needles/Black Hills

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


South Dakota, Needles/Black Hills

On May 29, 1989, Cristina Cerrutti (31), Jim Bjork (29), Stephen Gillmore (30) and David McConnell (27) of Minnesota were climbing in the Ten Pins area. Cristina was leading Tricouni Nail (5.8) with Jim belaying. About eight meters up, she clipped a bolt and continued. About two meters above the bolt, she said that she could not go any higher and could not see the route. We found a guide book and discovered that she should have gone right from the bolt instead of up. While we were trying to explain the situation, she slipped and fell about five meters. As the rope caught her, she swung back into the rock striking her left foot. We heard a loud “pop,” and Cristina hung in obvious pain. She was lowered to the ground. Steve went to get the first aid kit out of the car while Dave and Jim checked Cristina for injuries. Her left ankle was swollen and tender. We decided that she should be taken to a hospital for X-rays. Cristina’s climbing shoe was carefully removed and replaced with a tennis shoe. We then splinted the lower leg and ankle with a French climbing magazine and an ace bandage. Dave helped Cristina back to the car while Jim and Steve retrieved the gear. We took Cristina to the emergency room in Custer, where her leg was X-rayed and she was found to have a broken fibula and badly dislocated ankle. We then took her to the emergency room in Rapid City to see an orthopedic surgeon where she received a full leg cast. Back in Minneapolis, she had surgery. Two pins were used to stabilize the ankle, and she couldn’t climb for three months. (Source: David McConnell and Jim Bjork)


Better knowledge of the route beforehand could possibly have prevented this accident. (Source: David McConnell)

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