American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Inadequate Belay, No Hard Hat, North Carolina, Moore's Wall

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

FALL ON ROCK, INADEQUATE BELAY, NO HARD HAT

North Carolina, Moore’s Wall

On June 9, 1990, as a party of four, we were planning to lead and follow the route, Golden Earring, a 5.7. The first two members of the party had already led up a short 15 meter pitch. Joe was then belayed up from the top. Since the difficulty was very minor, Joe belayed Cameron up the same climb. The rope was properly anchored at the top. In a standing position, Joe proceeded to belay Cameron with a figure eight connected to his harness. He was not separately anchored. Cameron climbed with an extra rope. He slipped on a wet spot about two meters up from the start of the climb. Cameron’s fall pulled Joe off balance. Joe fell face first over the rock. Cameron fell to the base of the climb. Cameron’s weight held Joe from sliding down the slope. (He was still attached to the rope by the figure eight.)

Cameron fell and swung into a small tree, with no injury. Joe skinned his left arm and left leg and hit his head just above the left ear, immediately resulting in double vision. Joe never lost consciousness and was soon able to right himself and secure himself. With the aid of the rope Cameron was able to safely climb to Joe and lower him to the base of the climb. (Source: Joseph Hanna)

Analysis

First of all, we both decided that the accident was caused by a lack of common sense, but more because of the lack of difficulty involved. Seeing no present danger, we overlooked the obvious in eagerness to continue the latter half of the climb.

Nevertheless, the system was not checked with understanding. A helmet would have eliminated the seriousness of the injury but would not have prevented the accident. The belayer should have been secured separately, regardless of whether or not he felt secure.

The Climbers Guide to North Carolina and previous knowledge of the area allowed us to reach medical care within a reasonable amount of time. We will continue to be aware of medical services in the area in which we climb and in the future, helmets are a must! (Source: Joseph Hanna)

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