American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Insufficient Protection, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Barrier Bluffs

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1991

FALL ON ROCK, INSUFFICIENT PROTECTION

Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Barrier Bluffs

While leading the route called Cadillac Jack on June 3, 1990, T.C. fell and struck a ledge. Her partner lowered her to the ground, where it was obvious she had severely injured her right ankle. Numerous other climbers assisted the victim, applying a splint and giving her three tablets of a pain killer. The accident was reported to Kananaskis Rangers by phone from Barrier Information Centre at 1735. Rangers arrived at the accident site at 1810 and prepared T.C. for ground evacuation by Cascade stretcher (normally a half-hour walk on the narrow downhill trail through rubble and forest), but requested helicopter evacuation about 1825, as the victim was in extreme pain and showing symptoms of shock.

A machine from Canadian Helicopters was dispatched to the area via Bow Valley Provincial Park, and a ranger was slung to the accident site at 1920 for an aerial pickup. The victim was lowered to a Barrier Lake parking area at 1930 and attended by medical personnel before transfer to an ambulance for transport to Calgary. It reached Foothills Hospital at 2000 and T.C.’s injuries were confirmed as a fracture and dislocation of the right ankle.

Analysis

There may be a tendency, especially among new climbers, to overestimate the powers of the rope. In this case, the overall protection system was inadequate to prevent a severe and extremely troublesome injury. (Source: George Field, Alpine Specialist, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park)

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