American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Various Falls on Rock, Mostly No or Inadequate Protection, New York, Shawangunks

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


New York, Shawangunks

In 1990, there were 20 climbing accidents, one of which was fatal, 12 of which resulted in fractures. The fatality resulted when a 15 year old boy slipped while at the top of the Cliffs and fell over 40 meters. He and his father were there for “recreational rappelling.” Again, lead climbers with inadequate protection constituted the majority of the injuries—12.

Among the unusual occurrences were (a) a 56 kg person attempting to lower a 91 kg male—resulting in a 15 meter fast ride and burned belayer hands; (b) a man dislocating his shoulder from trying to reach out and stop a friend who was falling; (c) a woman being hit on the lip by falling protection that a leader on an adjacent climb had dislodged; and (d) a man falling 12 meters because he thought he was being belayed when he was being lowered off a 5.13. He was not. (Source: Mohonk Preserve)

(Editor’s Note: The case where the climber thought he was being lowered may happen more frequently, both on natural climbs, which are extremely difficult and being attempted several times by the same climber, and on artificial walls. Belaying in these circumstances is usually done totally without using the standard climbing calls—in fact, it is usually done with no calls. The assumptions made are not always correct.)

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