American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Rappel Error—Only Connected to One Strand of Rappel Rope, Alaska, Anchorage, Hunter Creek

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1997


Alaska, Anchorage, Hunter Creek

On January 21, Evan Blanchard (20) had climbed to the top of a 150 foot frozen waterfall, and then he and his two partners looped their rope around a tree at the top in preparation for a rappel. The two friends had failed to thread both strands through his rappelling device. With just one end of the rope weighted, he plunged the entire 150 feet, taking the rope with him.

Jeff Sands, a member of the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group, just happened to be walking his dogs and scouting future climbs in the area. He came on the scene ten minutes after the accident.

“He was ugly,” Sands said. “There was a lot of blood.”

The impact had shattered his helmet, but Sands is sure it saved Blanchard’s life. Sands initiated a rescue effort that ended up taking four hours until Blanchard was able to be transferred to a helicopter. (Source: Anchorage Daily News, January 22, 1996)

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