American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Inadequate Protection, Failure to Follow Accepted Standards, California, Redmond

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

FALL ON ROCK, INADEQUATE PROTECTION, FAILURE TO FOLLOW ACCEPTED STANDARDS

California, Redmond

On September 21, Travis Hull (28), North American Wilderness Academy school administrator and master wilderness instructor, fell to his death while teaching a beginning rescue class to the NAWA-USA Academy. The USA Academy, composed of teachers and students in grades seven through twelve, were completing the rescue course in preparation for their five week trip to Alaska when the accident occurred.

Travis had just completed a demonstration on the safety of a two point self-protecting system and had yet to hook the ropes into the system. As he extricated himself from the system, he apparently lost contact with how close he was to the edge, stepped back, lost his balance, and fell to his death.

Analysis

Travis was an expert climber and rescue instructor. He was a volunteer coordinator for the Shasta County Search and Rescue and had spent many hours training Sheriff departments, search and rescue groups, and fire departments in vertical and swift water rescue. His contributions to the NAWA program were enormous, and he will be deeply missed by all of us.

As his father, I know he would want me to emphasize one thing: the equipment and the system were safe. The error was his alone as he failed to follow his own and the industry’s safety procedures by being too close to the edge without being hooked into the system. As instructors, we work hard to conduct safe situations for youth to (engage in) risk and grow emotionally from that risk. We are oftentimes concerned more with our clients’ safety than our own. Don’t let your familiarity with your job and your acceptance of the risks momentarily blind you to the inherent dangers. They are always there for each of us. An accidental misstep can have devastating consequences. (Source: David Hull)

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