American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Climbing Alone and Unroped, California, Morro Bay, Morro Rock

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


California, Morro Bay, Morro Rock

On January 21, Jody Walker (17) of St. Helena died from head and neck injuries after he plunged about 100 feet from Morro Rock while climbing its northwest face.

“When our paramedics got to him he was unconscious,” said Morro Bay Fire Chief Jeff Jones. “He suffered significant blood loss.”

Jones had worked with the Morro Bay Fire Department since 1979 and said he can’t remember anyone dying in a rock-climbing incident at Morro Rock.

“If it’s not the first, it’s the first in a long time,“ he said.

Walker and his friend Justin Valasquez, also of St. Helena, were free climbing the Rock Sunday morning when Walker fell.

The 578-foot high rock is treacherous, said Dave Sears, spokesman for California State Parks, which manages Morro Rock. He said signs prohibiting climbers are posted near the Rock. Morro Rock is a peregrine falcon preserve and it is against the law to scale it, he said.

“The signs are there for their own protection,” he said.

Several agencies participated in the rescue. Jones said even with the best training and professional equipment, rescuers can’t save every accident victim. He urged the public to respect signs posted around the Rock. (Source: San Luis Obispo County Telegram Tribune, January 23, 1996)

(Editor’s Note: This is the first report from Morro Rock. In nearby San Luis Obispo, there is a popular climbing cliff—complete with poison oak, snakes, owls, etc. Any additional.information from this area will be appreciated.)

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