American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Various Falls on Rock, Rappel/Lowering Failures, and Inadequate Protection (Including No Helmet), New York, Mohonk Preserve, Shawangunks

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


New York, Mohonk Preserve, Shawangunks

There were 18 incidents reported from this popular climbing area this year. Of the twelve falls, six were the result of rappel or lowering errors. In four instances, protection came out and in another, no protection was put in, so the consequences of the fall were guaranteed. The average age of the climbers was 34, and the average degree of difficulty on which the climbing incidents occurred was between 5.7 and 5.8. We do not receive the level of experience information from this area, but some of the reports come in from the individuals involved or from someone who witnessed the scene.

There were some interesting causes in the “other” category. There was an individual who fell 20 feet after taking his harness off in an effort to try to get his rope unstuck. He walked away uninjured. In three cases, climbers fell when being lowered because the end of the rope went through the belay device, and in one of these cases, the climber fell right on the belayer. One case involved distraction. A father was talking at his twelve year old son who was climbing Easy Keyhole (5.2), lost his concentration, and fell. A slightly trickier case, not counted as a climbing statistic, involved a dog lunging at a climber as he was approaching the Trapps. The climber fell, receiving lacerations to the head, arms and face.

Some falls that were reported did not get counted because they are considered “normal”—in that leaders consider falling part of what is to be expected when trying harder routes.

The most interesting accident from this area for this year was one that involved two climbers simul-rappelling. Using the same rope, they had apparently not used a knot, and as he was heavier than she and the rope did not reach the ground, he fell 25 feet to the deck. The other victim fell 40 feet, also off the end of her rope, to the deck. They got away with only a few fractures.

There were no fatalities, and the overall accident rate was down. The number of climbers appears to be constant over the last few years. (Source: From the annual report submitted by the Mohonk Preserve and Jed Williamson)

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