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Rappel Failure—Carabiner "Unclipped," Inadequate Belay, Colorado, Eldorado Canyon State Park, Supremacy

RAPPEL FAILURE—CARABINER “UNCLIPPED,” INADEQUATE BELAY Colorado, Eldorado Canyon State Park, Supremacy

On July 11,1994, a climber was teaching a person (37) how to rappel. Several successful rappels were completed before the carabiner/sling system failed and the victim fell 20 feet to the ground. She sustained a dislocated and compound fracture of the right ankle. (Source: Steve Muelhauser, Park Ranger)

Analysis

Somehow, the carabiner linking the rappel rope to the sling system at the anchor point came unclipped. Though it was a locking carabiner, it was not locked—or was inadvertently unlocked, according to the report.

It is common practice to belay beginning rappellers, and many guides prefer to use two carabiners at the anchor point, especially when multiple rappels are to be done. Another unfortunate factor at climbing areas that are easily accessible is that anchor systems have “mysteriously” come undone and falling objects—such as rocks and beer bottles—come from nowhere. (Source: Jed Williamson)