American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Failed to Follow Route, Inadequate Protection, No Hard Hat — Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Hallett Peak

  • Accident Reports
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  • Publication Year: 2000

FALL ON ROCK, FAILED TO FOLLOW ROUTE, INADEQUATE PROTECTION, NO HARD HAT

Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Hallett Peak

On July 28, Frederick Sperry (28) was attempting to lead the second pitch of the Culp Bossier Route (III, 5.8) on Hallett Peak. Sperry should have followed the crack starting off the left side of the ledge, but instead he started off route from the center of the ledge and through a small roof to an unprotected face. Sperry realized his error, but instead of down-climbing, he attempted to traverse right toward the crack on the Jackson Johnson Route. After traversing approximately 30 feet with no protection, Sperry slipped and fell 70–80 feet, including a substantial pendulum. Sperry said that as he fell he scraped his back, hurt both ankles, broke a finger, and struck his head on a ledge, causing a three-inch laceration.

Analysis

Routes on the North Face of Hallett Peak are notorious for route finding difficulties. To increase chances of success with route finding, study the guidebook carefully and frequently, and look up, right, left and all around to consider and plan all options. Don’t force the route to fit the description, however. If the path chosen doesn’t feel right, back off before retreat becomes impossible. Then reevaluate route options, including total retreat. As for a hard hat, Mr. Sperry, like Mr. Hare on The Book (above), sustained a head injury because he was not wearing one. (Source: Jim Detterline, Longs Peak Ranger)

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