American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock—Rock Foothold Broke Off, Protection Pulled Out, No Hard Hat, California, Joshua Tree National Monument

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

FALL ON ROCK—ROCK FOOTHOLD BROKE OFF, PROTECTION PULLED OUT, NO HARD HAT

California, Joshua Tree National Monument

On June 7, 1992, William Oliver (30) was leading Beck's Bet (5.5). He was about 25 feet up the route, just past his second piece of protection, when the rock knob he had stepped onto broke off. He fell, his protection pulled out, and he landed on his belayer. Oliver went unconscious briefly. His partner sustained a bruised thigh and lacerated ankle. They were both evacuated to medical facilities, examined, treated and released that evening. (Source: Kip Knapp, Ranger, Joshua Tree National Monument)

Analysis

Bill Oliver wrote an article about his accident for the Southern California Mountaineering Association newsletter, and sent it along to ANAM. In his own words:

I always, always wear (my hard hat) when climbing—even though virtually no one else does and it looks totally uncool. Today, needless to say, I had inadvertently left it in the car and I didn’t bother to go back and get it once we got to the wall… Since there’s no guarantee against an unexpected fall, it behooves climbers to carry adequate medical insurance—and the use of a hard hat might not be totally uncool.

The total charge for his ambulance ride and hospital—including the CAT scan—came to $6,251!

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