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Rappelled Off End of Rope—Technique (Speed and Control), North Carolina, Pilot Mountain State Park


North Carolina, Pilot Mountain State Park

On January 1 Nathan Lane (23), with the U.S. Army, was being video taped in the Amphitheater to see how fast he could descend via “Australian Rappel” (face first). Witnesses on the scene described the climber as “out of control” as soon as he began his descent. The climber let go of the rope and fell 30 feet to the base of the route.

He was conscious and alert after the accident. He suffered an open head wound and other facial lacerations. He was evacuated by Pilot Mountain rescue and EMS personnel to NC Baptist Hospital in Winston Salem.


The Australian style (also called “butterfly”) rappel has no utility in a rock- climbing environment. If is to be undertaken by military personnel or sport rappellers in a climbing setting, it should be done in a slow, controlled descent. A belay would have made the outcome of this incident different. It is not known whether or not the victim was wearing a helmet or gloves. Chances are he was wearing neither. This equipment may have prevented the loss of control and head injury. (Source: Aram Attarian)