American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Off Route, Inadequate Protection, California, Mount Whitney, East Face

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1995

FALL ON ROCK, OFF ROUTE, INADEQUATE PROTECTION

California, Mount Whitney, East Face

On September 10, 1994, six climbers were on the East Face Route of Mount Whitney. Brad Berdoy (38) was leading the Fresh Air Traverse when he realized he was off route.

He was down climbing to the belay when he fell about 20 feet, landing on a ledge and blowing out his knee. He was unable to descend, so his teammates secured him to the ledge and decided to call for a rescue. He and a companion remained on the ledge for the night. Of the four remaining members, two set up camp at Iceberg Lake and two went to the trail head to call for the rescue. The next morning, members of the Inyo County SAR and China Lake SAR were flown into the lake, then climbed to the victim. They splinted his leg and hauled him to the top of the tower, where he was air lifted off.

Analysis

Alpine climbing often consists of short sections of difficult climbing between ledges, corners, and ramps. Falls are quite often stopped by one of these features rather than by the rope. (Source: Greg Corliss and Mark Wester, Inyo County Sheriffs Posse SAR)

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