Stranded—Fatigue, Inexperience, Miscommunication, Colorado, Eldorado State Park

Publication Year: 1999.


Colorado, Eldorado State Park

On June 13, a twenty-one-year-old male with moderate climbing experience was seconding the second pitch of the Bulge (5.7) at Redgarden Wall when he fell about three feet. After a brief rest, he attempted the move repeatedly and failed each time. By this time, the victim was tiring and due to high wind conditions and lack of a line of sight to his belayer was unable to communicate his dilemma to the belayer above. The victim clipped into a fixed piece of hardware and did not move. He was approximately 150 feet above the ground at this point. After about half an hour of waiting, the belayer decided to tie off his rope and soloed off the route to get help, but did not inform the victim. Rescue personnel finally contacted the victim, set up an anchor above and rappelled down to him. They were able to rappel him and his gear to safety. He was not injured. Neither he nor the belayer had a helmet on during the climb.


Conditions of high winds and restricted visibility require extra measures of precaution and a backup system of communication such as a rope tug code between partners. Climbers should not exceed their abilities, particularly if the partners are not familiar with each other’s experience and skill level. (Source: Steve Muelhauser, Park Manager, and Conrad Bieniulis, Seasonal Park Ranger)