American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Climbing Alone and Unroped, North Carolina, Crowders Mountain

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


North Carolina, Crowders Mountain

On March 13, 1994, Shawn MacDonald (17) fell 80 feet to his death while climbing solo. (Source: Deidri Sarver, Ranger)


According to a newspaper report in the Charlotte Observer on March 15, Shawn MacDonald climbed frequently at Crowders. The day before the incident, he had been climbing with his brother and another. The park has a climber registration system, but MacDonald did not register and carried no identification. It was not until his brother came to pick him up that rangers knew who he was.

This incident caused State officials to review rock climbing policies at Crowders Mountain and the four other State parks that allow climbing. The usual dilemmas are being debated. The cliffs can’t be “patrolled,” because there aren’t enough rangers, and none of the rangers are climbers. Saying that only experienced climbers can register means they would have to have a means of figuring out what “experienced” means, and who is qualified. If the park regulates who is allowed to climb, then it opens itself to legal exposure if someone who passed the test were to get injured.

There is no resolution as yet. (Source: Jed Williamson)

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