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Fall on Rock, Inadequate Belay, Distraction, Hot Weather, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, CMC Valley


Alberta, Rocky Mountains, CMC Valley

R.B. and B.T. were climbing in CMC valley on July 23,1994. At 1100 the weather was hot and R.B. was having trouble leading the first pitch of a two-pitch route. After a half hour on the lead, with two pieces of protection in place, he came down, saying he could not think clearly because of the heat, and asked B.T. to take over. With R.B. belaying and other climbers nearby, B.T. started up. After reaching R.B.'s high point, B.T. continued higher, placing one more piece and then clipping in to a fixed piton. About two meters above the piton, he fell, scraping his right hand and his torso on the rock before being stopped by the rope some seven meters below the piton. He righted himself, and then R.B. lowered him to the base of the climb, a distance of six meters. B.T. walked out to the road with two other members of the group, and reached hospital in Canmore at 1800. B.T. was found to have a sprained right wrist and thumb, a tom abdominal muscle, and was dehydrated.


The route was not considered difficult, and B.T. had climbed harder ones in the days before his accident. Also, he didn’t think he was in a high risk situation. Otherwise, he may have placed more protection. The hot weather contributed to loss of concentration for both climbers, and B.T. feels he should have taken the day off, as he had suffered heat exhaustion the previous day. B.T. did not know R.B. very well—R.B. admitted that he had let out several meters of rope when B.T. fell because he was distracted by talking with someone while belaying. In the future B.T. will ensure his belayer is paying closer attention to belaying. (Source: Barrie T., the victim)