American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Inadequate Protection, Poor Position, "Attitude," California, Joshua Tree National Monument, Feudal Wall

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1994


California, Joshua Tree National Monument, Feudal Wall

On March 12,1993, a male climber (early 20s) was leading Coyote in the Bushes (5.10a) on Feudal Wall above campsite 7. He was belayed. He moved past the first two bolts and up to a spot where the guidebook (Rock Climbs of Indian Cove by Alan Bartlett) says there is a fixed pin. That pin is no longer there. The belayer saw that the victim was angry that the pin was not there and seemed to be nervous about the long run out to the next bolt. He continued to climb, however. He had almost reached the last bolt, approximately 20 feet above his last piece of protection, when he fell. Witnesses said that when clipping the last bolt, he had left the rope running crosswise behind his body. This caused him to twist and fall head first. He fell approximately 35 feet and landed on his shoulders and his head on a rock ledge. The impact caused a fatal blow to the back of his skull. (Source: Colin Smith, NPS Ranger, Joshua Tree National Monument)

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