FALL ON ROCK, EXCEEDING ABILITIES
Wyoming, Fremont Canyon
TW (36) and EO (37) planned a weekend (in August) of climbing in Fremont Canyon. They arrived on Saturday morning at 0900. To start the day TW rappelled to the sloping ledge just above the river at the bottom of the canyon below the route Hemateria, then proceeded to set up a belay anchor. After the anchor was set up, EO rappelled down to join TW. Next, TW proceeded to lead Stone King. This route involves a difficult traverse to a small pedestal at the base of an arete. Tom made the traverse and was about four meters up the arete when he took a leader fall. Because of the traverse, rope stretch and the fact that EO was pulled off the belay ledge, the total distance of the fall was six to seven meters. There was no problem with the protection or the belay anchor. In the process of falling, TW’s ankle struck the pedestal which resulted in a fracture. At this point both TW and EO were hanging over the river. TW was hanging from his protection with EO holding him on belay. EO was hanging from the anchor. EO was able to climb back onto the ledge while holding TW on belay. EO then proceeded to throw a loop consisting of the slack part of the rope to TW which he used to pull himself onto the belay ledge. TW was unable to climb out of the canyon on his own. They had brought a pair of mechanical ascenders but had conveniently left them in the car. They decided that EO should climb out, get the ascenders, and return rather than use Prussik loops. This was because TW had little or no experience using
Prussik loops. EO climbed out by way of the route Hemateria with TW belaying, and returned with the ascenders. TW climbed out and then EO climbed out without further incident. EO then drove TW to the doctor.
TW shouldn’t have tried to lead a route as hard as Stone King right off. This is especially true considering the fact that neither EO nor TW had been to this climbing area before. When going to a new area, you should start off on a climb well within your abilities to get a feel for the area’s ratings. (Source: TW and EO)