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Fall on Rock, Climbing Unroped, Inadequate Equipment — Hiking Boots — and No Hard Hat, West Virginia, River Rocks


West Virginia, River Rocks

On April 20, Mark Williamson (25) had finished a day of climbing and had already changed from his climbing shoes to his hiking boots. He reportedly spied a carabiner up a climb and decided to retrieve it. It was a 5.9+ route, but he did not change back to his rock shoes to rope up. About 20 feet he fell to rocky, sloping ground and rolled another 20 feet to land head down the slope, where the Rescue Squad found him. Squad call-out was at 6:30 p.m. and the Skills Team was called out at 6:45 p.m. when the need for a roped, belayed descent was determined.

Mark's initial vital signs were taken in the head-down position in which he was found. When he was transferred to a backboard and brought level, his vital signs began to drop significantly. In addition, extensive head abrasions and contusions were obvious, so helicopter transport was called. However, Mark’s vital signs stabilized during the descent and remained stable thereafter. He was flown to UVA Hospital in Charlottesville, VA, and found to have a fractured vertebrate, abdominal injuries, and extensive abrasions with a few contusions. He recovered well and came back during the summer to thank his rescuers and apologize to the local landowner. (Source: Jim Underwood, Pendelton County Tactical Skills Team)

(Editor's Note: In situations like this, there must be a formula for calculating the ultimate price of a carabiner, etc., by determining the relationship between the climber’s degree of desire and level of climbing skill.)