American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Rappel Error—Ropes Uneven, Rappel Off End of Rope, No Helmet, Colorado, Eldorado Canyon

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1999

RAPPEL ERROR–ROPES UNEVEN, RAPPEL OFF END OF ROPE, NO HELMET

Colorado, Eldorado State Park

Just Another Girl’s Climb (5.12) on Lower Peanuts Wall begins on a ledge about fifty feet off the ground requiring a scramble for access. On September 6, a forty-two year old male experienced climber had lowered his partner who unsuccessfully attempted a lead on this route back down to the ledge. The victim then decided to scramble to the top of the route and rappel down. The victim ran his rope through the fixed anchor and successfully rappelled for the first forty to fifty feet until he rappelled off one end of the rope. The victim then fell about twenty to thirty feet down to the ledge where his partner was still positioned. The victim fell to the ledge and continued falling the additional fifty feet to the ground. The victim did not check to see if the ends were even nor did he tie knots in the ends of the rope prior to rappelling. He was not wearing a helmet. The victim suffered multiple abrasions and lacerations over his body as well as severe fractures to his shoulder and left leg. (Source: Steve Muelhauser, Park Manager, and Conrad Bieniulis, Seasonal Park Ranger)

(Editor’s Note: Reports from Eldorado Canyon and a few other locations in Colorado were received for 1997 following publication of last year’s ANAM. They have been put into the data. Among these incidents, of which there were eight, were two fatalities, one caused as a result of not wearing a helmet, and the other due to an ice climber not being anchored. Five of the incidents involved injuries that could have been prevented by wearing a helmet. One serious injury resulted when a belayer was using a figure of eight for a device in the same manner as it is used for a rappel. The friction was inadequate, and the rope passed through the device, causing the climber to drop to the ground. Another fall was the result of an experienced climber tying in only to the elastic pan of his harness. He survived a long fall, but suffered serious head injury and seizures.)

This ANAM article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.