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Fall on Rock, Inadequate Belay — Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, The Book

FALL ON ROCK, INADEQUATE BELAY

Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, The Book

On June 28 at 1015, Dale Yang (31) fell while leading the first pitch of the J Crack (III, 5.9) on The Book formation. Yang’s belayer, Lance Polonbo, released the belay to brace himself for the fall. Polonbo then unsuccessfully attempted to re-grab the rope, but Yang’s fall was instead stopped by a ledge. The 30-foot fall resulted in lower back injuries and a rescue for Yang.

Analysis

Many belay devices will automatically lock if the belayer is knocked unconscious or inattentive for other reasons. The Gri-Gri is an example of one such auto locking belay device. Two key factors to remember here: The belayer must not let go with the brake hand and should be tied in to an anchor system—even if on the ground. Belaying is a skill that should be practiced and perfected in a controlled environment. (Source: Jim Detterline, Longs Peak Ranger)