STRANDED, UNABLE TO ROUTE-FIND, INADEQUATE CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT, WEATHER, DARKNESS, EXCEEDING ABILITIES
Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, The Book
On July 28, James Griffith (31), Adam Seelig (24) and Erv Wolf were benighted and stranded 100 feet from the top of The Book formation on Lumpy Ridge. They had been attempting the J Crack (IV 5.10) but were unable to figure out the Cave Exit. When the sun set and rain began to fall, they began to yell for help from their perch on the east edge of Fang Ledge. MacGregor Ranch manager Eric Adams and his young son heard the yells of the stranded climbers, and reported the incident to Rocky Mountain National Park. Park rangers responded to the scene and rappelled to the stranded climbers. Then they assisted the climbers in rappelling 450 feet to the base of The Book formation.
A number of small errors contributed to this serious situation. The party had a late start (1545) from the trailhead two miles away. Dangerous thunder showers often move suddenly into the area at this time of day. They did not start climbing until 1715 and were moving too slowly with a cumbersome party of three persons. When it became dark at 2030, none of the climbers had headlamps. It began to storm a short time later. None of the climbers had rain gear. In fact, they did not have basic survival gear of warm clothing, water, food, or proper rappel gear, and they were all dressed lightly in shorts and t- shirts, which contributed to their hypothermia.
They stated that they were more used to bolt-protected sport routes on short cliffs and rock gymnasiums. That type of background does not prepare climbers for descents involving multiple rappels, proper placement of chocks and camming devices, and route-finding. (Source: Jim Detterline, Longs Peak Supervisory Climbing Ranger)