American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, No Helmet, Inadequate Protection, Exceeding Abilities, Inexperience, Alberta, Kananaskis Valley, Barrier Bluffs

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1998


Alberta, Kananaskis Valley, Barrier Bluffs

Late in the afternoon of July 6, Justin W. (21) was top-roping The Wasp, a 5.9 route, on the Yellow Wall when he took a ten-meter fall. He was not wearing a helmet and suffered an open wound to the head. His sister, who was at the site, reported the accident to Ribbon Creek Emergency Center by cell phone, and a number of rangers reached the scene on foot in less than a half hour after the call. Justin was immobilized on a scoop stretcher, placed in a Baumann Bag, and moved out in the open to be accessible by helicopter sling. He was then flown down to the road, where he was transferred to an ambulance for transport to hospital.


The reasons for the length of the victim's fall are unclear. Perhaps Justin had climbed past the top of the climb, or the rope had become unclipped at the top anchor. Justin had learned to climb on indoor walls, and this was his first climb on real rock, so it’s quite likely that his inexperience was a contributing factor. A helmet would likely have minimized or prevented the head wound. (Source: Kananaskis Country Alpine Specialist)

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