American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Rappel Anchor Error—Inadequate Protection, Fall on Rock, No Hard Hat, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Lumpy Ridge

  • Accident Reports
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  • Publication Year: 1996

RAPPEL ANCHOR ERROR—INADEQUATE PROTECTION, FALL ON ROCK, NO HARD HAT

Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Lumpy Ridge

On December 2, Greg Levine (28) and a female companion decided to retreat from the first pitch of Hand Over Hand (I, 5.7) on Batman Rock at Lumpy Ridge. Levine, the leader, allowed his friend to rappel from a station of two stoppers he had set. When Levine's turn came to rappel, he removed one of the stoppers. The rappel anchor “failed,” and Levine fell approximately 70 feet to the ground, wedging in a chimney. He was knocked unconscious (was not wearing a helmet), and sustained a flail chest, fractured left femur, and lacerated pancreas. His friend hiked out about one mile to get help from Rocky Mountain National Park SAR team. The complicated yet successful medical effort was led by Estes Park Ambulance EMT-P Jeff Ofsanko.

Analysis

There was a short additional pitch of 5.5 to top off on Batman Rock, but the hour was already late when the Levine party decided to back off the route. Levine's female partner was inexperienced, and Levine would have had an easier time training her at one of the area's numerous top-roping crags. Levine was attempting to treat a single stopper as an anchor system. It is not known as to how much experience Levine had placing “traditional” protection, but it is of note that all his stoppers were in new condition. (Source: Jim Detterline, Longs Peak Supervisory Climbing Ranger, Rocky Mountain National Park)

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