Fall on Rock, Inadequate (No) Belay, Miscommunication, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Lumpy Ridge

Publication Year: 1999.


Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Lumpy Ridge

On August 9, Stewart Ritchie (38) fell 60 feet from the top of the route Ziggie’s Day Out (I, 5.10b) on Checkerboard Rock at Lumpy Ridge. Ritchie had completed his lead of the route, and clipped a second rope that he had been trailing through the top anchors. Ritchie’s plan was to be lowered off the route via this second rope. However, there was miscommunication between Ritchie and his belayer, Steve Britt. Britt did not place Ritchie on belay on the second rope, and Britt had also removed the belay from the lead rope. Subsequently, when Ritchie leaned back to be lowered off the cliff, he fell unbelted from either line. Ritchie’s ground fall resulted in fractured leg, abrasions, and possible internal injuries.


The members of this team were international level climbers with guiding experience. They had a casual attitude and approach to enjoying this short, fan route. Assumptions about what his partner was doing led Ritchie to this unfortunate result. (Source: Jim Detterline, RMNP Ranger)