American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Loose Rock, Unroped Fall, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Grassi Lakes Area

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

LOOSE ROCK, UNROPED FALL

Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Grassi Lakes area

While hiking with friends near Canmore on September 22, 1990, Mark undertook some solo climbing on the rock faces next to the second lake. He was about three meters off the ground when a handhold broke. He fell to the ground, turning around on the way, and injured his left leg as he landed on the sloping surface. His friends called Bow Valley Ambulance at 1350, and park rangers were asked to assist at the accident scene. An ambulance was able to reach the lake by using the Trans Alta Utilities service road, and the victim was attended by a paramedic and the ambulance crew before being moved to the ambulance with the assistance of Ranger S. The evacuation was complete by 1450. Mark’s injury was diagnosed as a compound multiple fracture of the left tibia and fibula. (Source: George Field, Alpine Specialist, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park)

Analysis

A seemingly innocent diversion took a nasty turn in this case because of the coincidence of a number of unfavorable factors with the victim’s heavy reliance on luck (by having no protection), being too high off the ground, having a handhold fail, twisting during the fall, and, landing on a sloping surface. Since the outing began as a hike, perhaps he was not mentally prepared or committed to climbing. (Source: Orvel Miskiw, ACC Calgary Section)

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