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Loose Rock, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Grand Sentinel

LOOSE ROCK

Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Grand Sentinel

The Grand Sentinel is a 100 meter quartzite pillar on the north slopes of Pinnacle Mountain, and Sentinel Pass which joins it to the southwest corner of Mount Temple. On August 11, 1990, two ACC rope teams were climbing different routes on this spire when the second climber, on the 5.6 north route, pulled off a large rock with his left hand. The rock fell on his right hand, breaking two fingers.

The first-aid supplies were in packs at the bottom of the Sentinel, but the victim still had the use of his thumb and first two fingers, and so was able to complete the pitch before his companions immobilized the affected hand with a bandanna. The party then traversed around the pillar to find a fixed rappel route, where the victim was lowered to ‘terra firma.’ He walked out with the rest of the party (a bit shaky on rough ground, with one hand in a sling) and was treated at Mineral Springs Hospital in Banff. Unfortunately, he eventually lost one of the injured fingers. (Source: Allan Main, ACC Calgary Section)

Analysis

Occasionally objective hazards strike without warning, but in this case the leader had warned the others about a rock which the second pulled out. The second may have avoided the accident by watching for the loose rock as he followed up the pitch, and avoiding it when he found it. Also, a leader should make a special point of warning less experienced climbers about hazards which they may not recognize. (Source: Orvel Mislaw, AAC Calgary Section)