American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, No Hard Hat, Protection Pulled, Inexperience — Ontario, Milton, Kelso Crags

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

FALL ON ROCK, NO HARD HAT, PROTECTION PULLED, INEXPERIENCE

Ontario, Milton, Kelso Crags

On Sunday, August 15 P.D. (36) of Tonawanda, New York, began leading a 5.3 one-pitch route. He placed only sparse protection. Part way up, he switched to a nearby 5.6 route. After running into difficulties, he decided to back off. He slipped while down-climbing, pulled out his top piece of protection and fell 15 meters. He was not wearing a helmet and suffered a skull fracture and broken facial bones. His partner lowered the unconscious and bleeding climber. The Milton Fire Department evacuated him to the local hospital, and he was eventually transferred to a hospital in his hometown. He has since fully recovered and plans to return to the crags (with a helmet). His partner, however, has quit climbing.

Analysis

According to companions, P.D. was not an experienced lead climber. He did not place sufficient protection in the easier section of the pitch to prevent a long fall. A helmet would likely have reduced the severity of his injuries. To his credit, however, when P.D. ran into difficulties he did down-climb rather than try to muscle his way to the top. This shortened the length of the fall when it did occur. (Source: David Henderson)

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