American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Protection Pulled Out, Fall on Rock, California, Owens Gorge

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


California, Owens Gorge

On June 17 a friend, Courtney Smith (?), fell while climbing in Owens Gorge in eastern California. The climb he was on started from a three meter high ledge, ascending about five meters to the first bolt and then on up. He got on the ledge, didn’t like the distance to the first bolt, and protected with a Friend in a crack about three meters to the side of his climb. He started to downclimb without asking for slack from his belay- er, weighting the rope somewhat. The Friend popped out of the crack, and he fell over a meter to the ledge, and then another three or four meters to the ground.

The ledge tumbled him backwards in the fall; he landed on his side and head, shattering his jaw and breaking his wrist. He went for an ambulance; luckily, the walk-in was short and he didn’t need a stretcher. (Source: Doug Mellinger)

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