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Fall on Rock, Inadequate Protection, Handhold Failure, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Kid Goat Buttress, "Keelhaul Wall"


Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Kid Goat Buttress, “Keelhaul Wall”

On July 24, Laura and Marty went to the Canadian Rockies for a climbing trip, hoping to do a few routes in the Bow Corridor. Starting at Kid Goat Buttress, they had a good time on “Twilight Zone,” found the north descent gully, and then proceeded up “Keelhaul Wall,” another 5.6.

They combined the first two pitches into one with their 60-meter rope, and then on the third pitch, Marty continued past the trees, as it seemed better to belay a little higher up. Unfortunately it was hard to find a good belay stance, and when he did, his three placements were spread far apart and so he had to use the rope to link them all together. That made it difficult to rearrange for Laura to take over the belay, so she decided to lead the last pitch. That pitch was rated 5.5, and Laura was solid on 5.7's, so they were confident she could do it.

Leading out, Laura found a slot about five meters up, but all she could get into it was a #1 Rock, which she did not think was any good. She climbed on, over the crux, unable to find or place any more protection, and about nine meters above her only protection, she was feeling secure again when an apparently solid hold broke off in her hand. She fell 15 meters down the rock until the rope came tight through her only protection placement. Screaming in pain when she stopped, Laura managed to climb some five meters back up to the belay.

Her apparent injuries included sprains of both ankles, a sprained thumb, cuts and abrasions of both hands, and abrasions of her seat. Marty put a jacket on her and gave her water, then lowered her down the route, leaving behind a few pitons, several slings, and a lot of blood. He was amazed at how well she endured the descent, as she could not use her hands, but had to use her injured ankles throughout. At the base, Marty taped up Lauras worst ankle, took all their heavy gear in his pack, and helped her to walk out to the road before dark, at about 2200. He then drove her to Canmore Hospital, where she was checked over, given first aid, and told to come back in the morning for X-rays. She had no fractures, but two badly strained finger tendons added to the list of her injuries. (Source: Marty)


Laura was wearing a helmet and day pack, which protected her head and back when she fell. The sparse protection may have made her impatient after the crux moves, and may have caused her to rely on handholds without testing them. (Source: Orvel Miskiw)