American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Inadequate Protection, Protection Pulled Out, Exceeding Abilities

New Mexico, Sandia Mountains, Muralla Grande

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year: N/A
  • Publication Year: 1997

On June 23, Carlos Abad (26), Jane Tennessen (33), and Glen Tietgen (35), fell 816 feet from Muralla Grande, a massive face of granite east of Albuquerque. They were ascending a route called Warpy Moople (III, 5.9), a climb with eight pitches. The route is clean, with solid crack and face climbing.

After the party failed to return home, search and rescue teams were dispatched. They found the climbers at the base of the wall, and proceeded with an investigation.

Analysis

Based on careful examination of the route, the equipment left behind and the damage it sustained, the following is a possible scenario.

Carlos Abad leads the last pitch (5.6) and tops out. Jane Tennesen goes off belay, undoes her anchor, and begins climbing, with Glen Tietgen putting her on belay from below. Abad then falls from the top, zippering out the stopper he had placed and putting a major impact on a Friend, which umbrellas out. The force of his fall pulls his partners with him.

While the total story will never be known, one of the messages is to place adequate protection—more than you think you should. (Source: Marc Beverly and Steve Attaway, Albuquerque Mountain Rescue)

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