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Fall on Rock, Bouldering Alone, No Spotter, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Hallett Creek


Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Hallett Creek

On July 22, 1994, Debbie Gruneberg (19) was bouldering near the July campsite by Hallett Creek on the North Inlet Trail. She slipped and fell 20 feet, fractured her nose, a sinus, C-l and C-2 vertebrae, and also sustained internal injuries. She was carried out by the Rocky Mountain National Park SAR Team by litter with scree evac techniques, and then was flown out by helicopter.


Gruneberg was a YMCA camp counselor chaperoning a large group of youths. Her group must be complimented for initiating the proper response for these injuries. Instead of moving her and causing possible quadriplegia, according to the flight nurse, they sent runners eleven miles to the trailhead and had the professional rescue apply full spinal precautions (backboard, cervical collar, etc.).

The standard practice in bouldering, except for the most experienced, is to have at least one spotter, and to climb no more than six or seven feet off the ground. (Source: Jim Detterline, Longs Peak Supervisory Climbing Ranger, and Jed Williamson)