American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Inadequate Protection—Rope on Tape, Inexperience, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Rock Gardens (Jasper)

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


Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Rock Gardens (Jasper)

On April 5, 1990, around 1630, two climbers, Sean (17) and David (23), ventured off the Rock Gardens, a rock outcrop popular with the locals, and established a top rope at an existing two-bolt anchor. The rope was passed through a carabiner which allowed both the climber and the belayer to work from the bottom of the 25-meter bluff. Sometime later it was decided to move to a different location. Sean climbed to the anchor and, acting on the advice of David, removed the carabiner and threaded the rope directly through the remaining tape sling attached to the bolts. Sean was then lowered down the cliff face until the anchor sling melted through. A ten-meter fall resulted, and he sustained a severe pelvic injury.

David covered Sean, then raced out and reported the accident to Jasper Warden Service. Sean was established and evacuated by stretcher to a waiting ambulance.


Feeding a rope through a sling should only be considered for a static situation, and even then only if no metal ring is available. (Source: Rick Ralf, Canadian Parks Service, Jasper)

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