American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Falling Rock, New Hampshire, Cannon Cliff, Sam's Swan Song

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

FALLING ROCK

New Hampshire, Cannon Cliff, Sam’s Swan Song

On May 17, John Bouchard and Mark Richey were climbing fast in preparation for an attempt on the Himalayan peak Latok. High on the cliff, Mark was climbing second to John when a large flake Mark had his arm behind detached from the cliff. Mark’s arm was broken as the flake, described by two other climbers as the size of the bed of a pickup truck, slid off its ledge. The flake destroyed two lower ledges on Sam’s on its way to the talus. John and Mark finished the climb and walked out on their own.

Analysis

Cannon is a cliff that has many very loose rocks—ranging from pebble to bus size—precariously perched everywhere. It is recommended that each and every hold be carefully analyzed and tested before using. With many years of climbing experience on this cliff, John and Mark were pushing the limits of speed during this training climb. It is possible that Mark’s assessment of the flake was compromised by his desire to move fast; however, it should also be recognized that it is impossible to identify all loose rocks. Climbers should treat all holds as suspect. (Source: John Bouchard)

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