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Fall on Rock, Placed Inadequate Protection, Icy Rock, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak

FALL ON ROCK, PLACED INADEQUATE PROTECTION, ICY ROCK

Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak

On September 19, 1992, at 0830, Lathe Strang (30) fractured his left ankle as he slipped on icy rock while leading the first pitch of Prevertical Sanctuary IV (5.10) on the Diamond face of Longs Peak. Strang was 30 feet above the belay and eight feet above his last piece of protection, a #3.5 Friend. He suffered a 20 foot fall and struck his left foot against rock upon impact from the fall. Climbers George Lowe and Alex Lowe responded to the calls of Erik Hendrix, Strang's partner, and lowered the injured climber down the lower East Face 800 feet. They continued to assist Strang across Mills Glacier and through the tundra to meet with the Rocky Mountain National Park Rescue Unit at Chasm Meadows.

George Lowe and Alex Lowe are to be commended for their efficient, professional rescue of the Strang-Hendrix party. They had completed the East Face lowering before the park service even got the word that there had been an accident.

Analysis

Strang was aware of icy conditions on the Diamond when he attempted his lead. He was hoping that conditions higher on the route would be drier. He had not even reached the 5.9 crux before he slipped on the icy rock. If unable to handle the eccentricities of free climbing on icy rock, one should either aid the pitch, or at least place protection more frequently. Of course, if either of these alternatives compromises the ability of a party to safely and efficiently finish a route, retreat should be executed. (Source: Jim Detterline, Longs Peak Supervisory Climbing Ranger, Rocky Mountain National Park)