FALL ON ROCK, EXCEEDING ABILITIES, NO HARD HAT
North Carolina, Table Rock Mountain, Helmet Buttress
Two climbers a male, B. D. (26) and female, JD (20s) were attempting Helmet Buttress (5.6) on September 2. J. D. was belaying B. D. on the first pitch, which includes a traverse. B. D. fell at the end of the traverse. His feet were level with his last piece of protection (approximately 18 feet out). During the fall the right side of his head struck a tree on the route, resulting in a laceration and a serious skull fracture. B. D. remained conscious as J. D. lowered him to the ground. Two climbers on a nearby route with Wilderness First Responder training arrived almost immediately and begin first aid. J. D. was instructed to maintain a “hands-on stable” position on B. D.’s neck. Once B. D. was stabilized, the other climber ran to the Table Rock Recreation Area parking lot and accessed B. D.’s cell phone, and called 911. The North Carolina Outward Bound School was also notified by a runner (located at the base of the mountain and the local SAR unit), and were first to arrive on the scene. At 12:15 (approximately three hours after the accident) B. D. was evacuated via helicopter to hospital in Asheville, NC. Surgery removed a fist-sized blood clot from B. D.’s skull. He was unconscious and on a respirator for four days. One month later he was approximately 90 percent and recovering.
The use of a helmet may have prevented or minimized this injury. B. D. had climbed with a helmet at Table Rock in the past on easier routes. The route was beyond his current level of abilities. (Source: Aram Attarian)