RAPPEL FAILURE—INADEQUATE ANCHOR SETUP, INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT
Alberta, Lake Louise, Rack of the Lake Crag
On October 6, a climber was being lowered by her partner in order to retrieve her protection slings after leading the route “Top Gun” (5.7). After descending about 15 meters, she reached the lower-angled section of the climb and removed the last runner. A short distance below that, she fell five meters to the ground, suffering a deep puncture wound to the lower back, and a fractured tailbone. She was treated for her injuries and flown out by helicopter, by the Banff Warden Service and paramedics.
The master point at the anchor was a steel, marine-type non-locking carabiner. The victim had clipped her rope in to it for lowering. Upon reaching the easier-angled rock, she may have partly unweighted the rope. It appears that the rope or the anchor carabiner changed position, and the rope ran across the gate of the carabiner and unclipped from it. A carabiner has the advantage that the climber does not have to untie to pass the rope through it, but as in various other situations, a single non-locking carabiner should be considered inadequate as the only point of attachment, as the potential exists for the rope to unclip itself. (Source: Marc Ledwidge, Banff National Park Warden Service)