AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Fall on Rappel, Inadequate Protection, Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Tunnel Mountain

FALL ON RAPPEL, INADEQUATE PROTECTION

Alberta, Rocky Mountains, Tunnel Mountain

On June 21, a party of two had completed the first two pitches of Gooseberry (II, 5.7) a seven-pitch popular route near the town of Banff. They had only planned to do those two pitches and then follow the walk-off ledge shown on the topo they had. The first climber started across the loose horizontal ledge using the rope with a rappel device as a safety. When she was about 20 meters across the ledge, she slipped and pendulumed across the face. The rope caught on the ledge about halfway between the rappel point and where she slipped.

She sustained facial lacerations, a cracked eye orbit and bruised shoulder and hip. A group of four including three certified ACMG guides were climbing nearby. They reported the accident to Warden Service Dispatch and lowered the injured climber to the base of the route. The climber was evacuated by heli-sling by a warden service rescue team to a waiting ambulance.

Analysis

Protecting traverses is important. In this case, it appears the party underestimated the consequences of a pendulum fall and were not familiar with other options for protecting a traverse. It was fortunate that the rope caught partway across the ledge. (Source: Parks Canada Warden Service)