AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Rappel Failure, Inadequate Protection, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Lake Louise, Back of the Lake Crag

RAPPEL FAILURE, INADEQUATE PROTECTION

Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Lake Louise, Back of the Lake Crag

On July 26, 1994, D.O. (29), a sport climber, took a serious fall at the Back of the Lake, a rock climbing area at Lake Louise. The accident occurred on a one-pitch climb called Swamp Thing (5.9) after D.O. inadvertently climbed past the top station of the route. When he realized his error, he decided to ‘lower out,’ using a # 1 stopper as his anchor. On the way down, he had just removed a # 5 stopper when the top anchor pulled out. He fell about twelve meters and landed among rocks in a shallow pond at the foot of the climb. Other climbers quickly got him out of the water, but he had a severe compound leg fracture, spinal fracture, sprained ankle, and various other injuries.

Analysis

D.O. relied on a single-placement anchor, then further compromised the odds when he recovered his protection on the way down. In this case, he still had some luck on his side, as a fall a few inches either way could have been fatal. (Source: Tim Auger, Banff National Park Warden Service)