American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Inadequate Belay, Miscommunication, Nevada, Red Rocks, American Sportsman

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


Nevada, Red Rocks, American Sportsman

On January 25, 1992, Matt Spydell of Santa Barbara, California, reached the anchors on American Sportsman (5.10c) on the Wall of Confusion, Red Rocks, Nevada. His partner asked if he was off belay, heard what she thought was a yes, and took him off. Spydell leaned back and dropped 40 to 45 feet to the deck. Medivaced to the hospital, he was found to have luckily only fractured a heel.


The belayer had not sport climbed much, and expected Spydell to belay or rappel from the top. Usually, sport climbers clip in and are lowered, so you never take them off belay. Also, no one should weight a rope without checking with his belayer. (Source: Climbing Magazine, April-May 1992)

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