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Fall on Rock, Protection Pulled Out, Minnesota, Minnesota State Park


Minnesota, Minnesota State Park

On July 8, 1991, Nancy Czech (38) fell about 45 feet from a moderate rock climb in Minnesota State Park.

“What she was climbing was not a difficult climb for her at all,” said Czech’s sister, Diane Kemp of Clear Lake, who witnessed the fall. “It was just a freak accident.”

Nobody knows exactly why Czech, an experienced climber who had been to the top of Mount McKinley, fell here. But according to her sister, the mishap had something to do with Czech’s anchors.

Kemp said that Czech was using an advanced type of “protection,” a type that all but the most experienced of rock climbers tend to shy away from. Instead of relying on the standard top-roping technique, Czech’s anchors could be attached to the top of a cliff face by throwing them up from below. Rock-climbing friends of Czech told Kemp that her sister had used the advanced anchors “100 times before.”

“It wasn’t an equipment failure, either,” Kemp said.

She noted that the anchors are intended to provide protection when the pressure on the rope is coming from below; Czech’s fall came as she rounded an overhang at the top of the climb, placing tension on the anchor that was perpendicular to the face of the cliff.

“She fell out instead of down,” Kemp said.

Czech, a northern Minnesota native, had been a psychotherapist for adolescents in Seattle for the past 15 years. An avid climber, Czech was a member of several climbing clubs. In addition to Alaska’s Mount McKinley, she climbed Mount Rainier and peaks in Ecuador. Czech had come back to the region to attend a family reunion in Somerset, where another of her sisters now lives.

Czech died on July 15. Funeral services were held in Amery on Saturday. (Source: From an article in The Standard Press, July 25, 1991, by John Hanke)

(Editors Note: No details as to the kind of anchoring devices being used was provided.)