Rappel Error, No Backup, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Tunnel Mountain

Publication Year: 1994.


Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Tunnel Mountain

On March 11, 1993, two climbers, both 22 years old, with several years experience, decided to take advantage of unseasonably warm weather to climb “Gooseberry,” a moderate six-pitch rock route rated 5.7, very close to Banff. Starting at 1100, they made it up four pitches by 1530, when they turned around due to the time.

On the second to last rappel, E.C. came down to M.L.s position, but decided to continue a couple of meters farther to a lower ledge. M.L. heard a shout and turned to see his partner come off the end of the rope, fall 20 meters, strike a ledge, and fall 15 meters more to the scree.

M.L. rappelled and downclimbed to assist his partner, and then ran out to a nearby phone to get help. E.C. died in hospital a week later due to serious head, and other, injuries.


E.C. was wearing a helmet at the time of his fall, but was not using any self-belay backup on the rappel, and no end knot in the rope. Either one may have prevented this accident. (Source: Banff National Park Warden Service)