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Fall on Rock, Slack in Belay Line, Arizona, Pinnacle Peak, East Wall, Lizard Lip


Arizona, Pinnacle Peak, East Wall, Lizard Lip

On September 23, 1991, two climbers were on Pinnacle Peak’s east wall. The lead was a 5.8 climb. The leader was about seven feet past a .5 tri cam, when he slipped. Slack in the rope caught his left ankle as he fell, breaking it. His partner lowered him to the ground, then ran down the mountain to call for help.

Rural Metro Fire Department responded, treated the injuries and called for Central Arizona Mountain Rescue Association to move the injured climber down the mountain. He was placed in a Stokes, and lowered in a 40 foot vertical lower, then down a talus slope, where he was transferred to a four-wheel drive ambulance for the trip down the trail to an awaiting air evac helicopter for transport to Scottsdale Memorial Hospital. The injured climber was given morphine for pain, and D/50 as he was diabetic and had not eaten since noon.

The injured subject was placed in the air evac helicopter at 1944 for transport. This operation was completed in the dark, in part, due to the delay in calling CAMRA. (Source: Marilyn Black, Central Arizona Mountain Rescue Association)


The age and experience level of these climbers were not reported. It seems apparent they were using appropriate technique—except for some slack in the rope, which became the mechanism of injury. The slack may also have just been from the seven feet of rope beyond the last protection, making the fall a total of 14 feet. This common hazard is one to be considered in the event a fall seems quite possible or likely. (Source: Jed Williamson)