American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fingers in Jumar Ascender, Failure to Follow Instructions, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Eagle Cliff Mountain

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1992


Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Eagle Cliff Mountain

On June 10, 1991, while participating in the annual rescue training session for RMNP seasonal personnel, Rescuer #1 (62) was descending a rope using Jumar ascenders on Eagle Cliff Mountain. Rescuer #1 became confused with his hand placement on the device and placed his left hand on the rope beneath the Jumar, thereby pinching the index, ring, and middle fingers of the left hand. He was extricated from the device by the SAR instructors and lowered to the ground using solo rope rescue techniques. Rescuer #1 sustained a moderate avulsion wound to the index finger and pinching injuries to the other fingers. He was treated at Estes Park Medical Center and released.


Technical rescue instructors (and all climbing instructors) need to keep a close watch on their students. In addition, Rocky Mountain National Park SAR team also splits students up into a “buddy system,” whereby students are especially responsible for one particular person (the buddy). In this case, Rescuer #1 moved into the accident situation before someone noticed. There is also a responsibility on the individual student to listen carefully to techniques explained and ask any questions about material in which there is the least bit of confusion. The students were told to keep hands on the Jumar handles, except for the retying of safety knots. (Source: Jim Detterline, Ranger, RMNP)

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