AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Fall on Rock—Lowering Error, Idaho, City of Rocks National Reserve


Idaho, City of Rocks National Reserve

On August 6, Emily Town (19) was leading an estimated 240 foot climb up Stripe Rock when she and her father Glen Town, who was lowering her down the rock, ran out of rope, according to Wallace Keck, Assistant Reserve Manager. She died instantly from severe head trauma, according to Cassia County Coroner Paul Young.


Apparently Ms. Town had climbed past the base of the third stage and was descending back to it when the last of the rope slipped through her father's hands before he realized what was happening. Mr. Town probably did not realize how high his daughter had climbed and that he did not have enough rope to lower her.

Errors in belaying—which safeguards climbers with a rope—are a common cause of accidents, Keck said. The park has had four similar accidents in the last five to six years, and at least one other person has been killed. But hundreds of climbers complete their routes safely each year in the reserve. (Source: The Times-News, August 8, 1995)

(Editors Note: An interesting comment from Ranger Brad Shilling regarding the cause of the above accident is that it was the seventh reported serious accident caused by a belayer letting the rope-end through the belay device. We received two other incident reports directly from the City of Rocks National Reserve this year just as we went to press. They are included in the statistics.)