American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Handhold Pulled — Alberta, Mount Laurie (Yamnuska)

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2000

FALL ON ROCK, HANDHOLD PULLED

Alberta, Mount Laurie (Yamnuska)

On September 17, C.H. and C.S. were climbing “Grillmair Chimney” (5.5) on

Mount Laurie. C.S. was leading the fourth pitch when he pulled out a rock the size of a microwave. He fell approximately 5–7 meters with the rock and was caught by his belayer.

At 2145, some nearby campground staff reported a light shining midway up the mountain face. Twenty minutes later, C.H. arrived back to the parking lot and confirmed that his partner was in trouble on the mountain. He reported that C.S. had a broken wrist and was conscious.

Kananaskis Emergency Services personnel began to arrive on the scene and climb up the scree slopes to the base of the cliff. At 0100, two of the rangers began climbing the cliff towards the victim. As they were climbing in the dark, they did not arrive at the victim until 0615. They administered first aid to the victim’s broken wrist and elbow, multiple contusions, cuts and abrasions. C.S. was then heli-slung out to the waiting ambulance. (Source: Kananaskis Country Alpine Specialist)

Analysis

Mount Laurie, better known as Yamnuska, is a popular limestone cliff on the eastern edge of the Canadian Rockies. The routes are up to 12 pitches in length, and most tend to be hard for their grade. The rock protection tends to be very good on the mountain, but the rock is also notoriously loose in sections, and it is not unusual for “microwave size blocks” to come undone. Every suspicious looking hand hold and foot hold must be tested completely before putting one’s trust in it. (Source: Nancy Hansen)

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