PROTECTION PULLED, OFF ROUTE
Alberta, Ha Ling Peak (formerly known as Chinaman's Peak)
On July 6, two climbers set out on the Northeast Ridge of Ha Ling Peak (5.6/ 5.7). The climbers got off route on the third or fourth pitch, and discovered by the sixth pitch that the climbing was much more difficult than 5.7, the protection was next to none, and the rock was loose. The lead climber decided to retreat and attempted to be lowered from a Friend placed in a shallow crack. While being lowered, both of his pieces of protection pulled out and he fell past his belayer for a total of approximately 80 meters.
The belayer, J.S., lowered to his partner, and found him conscious; however, he soon lost consciousness and stopped breathing. J.S. performed artificial respiration, but soon left to call for help. J.S. reported the incident to some other climbers, and then returned to the base of the third pitch (the victim was hanging between the third and fourth pitches). Kananaskis Emergency Services personnel were slung in and removed J.S. in a screamer suit. The victim was pronounced dead, lowered to the base of the third pitch and heli-slung off the mountain. (Source: Kananaskis Country Alpine Specialist)
Both climbers were quite experienced. However, many climbers, both experienced and not so experienced have gone off route on the Northeast Ridge of Ha Ling. The climbers did not have pitons or a hammer with them. Properly placed pitons (if it were possible) may have made a much safer anchor than one Friend placed in a shallow crack. (Source: Nancy Hansen)