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Fall on Rock, Climbing Alone and Unroped, Oregon, Smith Rock State Park, Monkey Face Spire

FALL ON ROCK, CLIMBING ALONE AND UNROPED

Oregon, Smith Rock State Park, Monkey Face Spire

On May 22, Terry Mitchell (22) a Willamette University student and climbing instructor, set out to free-climb, without the aid of ropes or safety devices. With him were two other experienced climbers, Mike W. Heald (22), also an instructor, and Miri Marie Anderson.

They’d climbed the rock before, and their experience had given them the confidence to try the route without ropes, said deputy Neil Mackey, search and rescue coordinator for Deschutes County.

Heald went first, making his way up a route called Monkey Face Spire, to a ledge. Mitchell went next. A little more than halfway to the top, Mitchell fell 500 feet to the ground and died. It was unclear whether he slipped or whether a handhold or foothold crumbled, searchers said. A climber from another party witnessed the accident at 1100 Saturday and called 911 with a cellular telephone.

Analysis

Mitchell reportedly climbed here almost every weekend and usually used ropes and protection. (Source: From an article in the Oregonian, May 27, 1996)