American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Weather, Protection Pulled Out, No Hard Hat, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Sundance Buttress

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

FALL ON ROCK, WEATHER, PROTECTION PULLED OUT, NO HARD HAT

Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Sundance Buttress

On September 6, Richard Jakush (42) and Bill Oswald were climbing Bonzo, a 5.10 route on Sundance Buttress. Jakush was leading the steep, sustained climb, and he took a one meter fall part way up. He continued climbing and near the top it began to rain. Oswald suggested that they back off, but Jakush wanted to complete the route. Jakush placed a piece of protection which fell out as he climbed by. He slipped and fell six meters impacting on the back of his head. Oswald lowered the unconscious Jakush and contacted park service rescue team to perform a long scree evacuation. Jakush sustained a fractured skull and posterior brain contusion. (Source: Rocky Mountain National Park Rangers)

Analysis

Jakush would not back off despite his earlier performance (a fall and a poorly placed protection piece) and the deteriorating weather. Also, he was not wearing a climbing helmet. The serious head injuries he suffered might have been fatal had it not been for Estes Park Ambulance Paramedics Gerry Hickson and Jeff Schanhals who had hiked to the scene and administered medications to control the swelling in the brain. (Source: Rocky Mountain National Park Rangers)

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