American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Inadequate Protection, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Notchtop

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


Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Notchtop

On July 6 at 1600, Ulrich Moderl (22) of Austria took a 15 meter fall from the 5.9 crux pitch of the South Ridge on Notchtop. Moderl sustained a fractured right ankle and pain in his right knee and back. Martin Pircher, Moderl’s partner, effected an evacuation and carried Moderl piggyback to the trailhead. (Source: Rocky Mountain National Park Rangers)


Running out long alpine pitches with little or no protection increases the chance of injury in the event of a fall. Fortunately Moderl’s partner was able to perform an efficient rescue. What can never be understated in the decision for a party to perform a self-rescue is the need for a thorough medical survey. Had the pain in Moderl’s back been due to a fractured vertebrae, the three mile piggyback ride could have turned him into a paraplegic. (Source: Rocky Mountain National Park Rangers)

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