American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Foothold Broke Off, Climbing Unroped, Arizona, Cochise, Stronghold, Rockfellow Dome

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1993


Arizona, Cochise Stronghold, Rockfellow Dome

On November 26, 1992, my friends and I (45) were checking out the climbs on Rockfellow Dome with the intention of climbing there the next day. At the base of the dome is a scree of large, smooth granite boulders. To return to camp, we had to climb over one such boulder. To the right of the rock on which I was standing and three feet up was a granite flake. I followed a friend, who used the flake as a foothold. Because I am much heavier than she, I first tried to test the flake by kicking it. It seemed stable, but when my full weight had shifted up and right, it broke. The crystals I gripped with my fingers were inadequate to keep me from falling. I missed the rock from which I had stepped up and landed in a crevasse (sic) 15 feet below. My pelvis and both arms were broken. The ulna of my right arm was protruding through the skin

I don’t remember landing or being extracted from the crevasse (sic). At first I was confused. Two rescue teams eventually arrived to help but they could not carry me over the rugged terrain, especially at night. Eventually an Air Force helicopter flew from the other end of the state, reaching us at 0130, ten hours after my fall. The helicopter had to hover within a few yards of the dome and winch me up. I was spinning wildly at the end of the cable. We flew to Tucson but landed at the wrong hospital. I completed the journey in an ambulance.


I will never trust a flake. If I had been roped up and following I would not have been hurt. Lacking the rope, I would seek another route.

Always carry drugs! The medics who came to the rescue did not have any. If my friends had not brought codeine with them, I would have had to do with out pain killers until I reached the hospital. (Source: Barbara Calef)

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