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Fall on Rock, Improperly Placed Bolts, Exceeding Abilities, Illinois, Drapers Bluff


Illinois, Drapers Rluff

On April 1, David Krupp (26) fell 30 feet from a 5.10 bolted route. He set out with three experienced climbers to ascend his first bolted route. He was a skilled beginner but had no experience using slings. The route was first attempted by one of his climbing partners who secured into the first bolt at ten feet, but fell while trying to sling the second bolt. Krupp took an offer to ascend, as would many new climbers who have not had the fear of a hard fall. He successfully clipped into the second bolt, approximately 18 feet, on his way toward the top. He then properly placed a sling in his third bolt (30 feet), but while pulling up his rope to clip into the sling, he fell. The second bolt slowed his descent, but allowed him to strike the ground sustaining a closed fracture of his right distal tibia and laceration on his head. He was properly cared for by his partner, Drew Coleman (29), who was a trained medic and a fellow medical student. Krupp began going into shock while waiting for the EMTs, who were not familiar with the area and subsequently had a slow response time. He was helicoptered to a hospital in the southern Illinois area for treatment and surgery. Five days later it was found that he had developed compartment syndrome, a very serious complication of fractures and falls that develops 12 to 24 hours after trauma that can lead to amputation or death. It is characterized by loss of sensation and motion and severe pain on passively moving affected areas—a complication all climbers should be aware of.


Improperly placed bolts can allow the climber to hit the ground in instances such as this. When designing a route, it must be remembered that slack is drawn when clipping into the sling. Whenever a climber is to bolt a route, it is important to consider all possibilities in allowing a climber to hit the ground. Krupp would not have hit the ground if the third bolt was placed lower. Subsequent climbers place trust in their predecessor. In addition, the more experienced climbers should not have allowed him to climb until the danger of hitting the ground was clearly not a possibility. Furthermore, if Krupp had practiced using slings on a simpler route, he would not have had difficulties clipping the rope into his sling and might not have fallen. Mixing a poorly bolted route with an inexperienced climber is obviously a dangerous recipe. (Source: David Krupp, Dr. Dan Chavez)