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Various Falls on Rock, Protection Pulled Out, Rock Flake (Handhold) Came Out, Stranded — Idaho, City of Rock National Reserve, Various Routes


Idaho, City of Rocks National Reserve, Various Routes

There were six climbing incidents reported from this area. Five involved falls from routes, and in three of those, protection came out. In one case, the climber couldn’t clip in to a bolt hanger. One climber became stranded while he was free soloing due to a sudden storm. The average age for the victims was late twenties, all experienced.


We had no reported climbing accidents in 1997 and only one in 1998. Due to the nature of climbing at the City of Rocks—long response times by ambulance and close proximity to vehicles—there are undoubtedly many climbing accidents that go unreported.

A refreshing trend here is that folks seem to have stopped dropping each other! We haven’t had a belay failure for several years. What we have seen however is an increase in protection failure on traditional climbs. My guess is that this is due, at least in part, to renewed interest in clean climbing as the pendulum swings away from sport climbing. These folks are finding out the hard way that protection is only as good as one’s ability to place it! Of the six incidents enclosed, three were the result of protection failure. On all of the climbs involved, it is quite straightforward for an experienced climber to protect.

Two of the other incidents were the result of the climber falling low on the climb and hitting a bad landing zone without impacting the belay at all. One had not reached the first bolt on a sport climb, the other spaced his protection too far apart.

The last was a simple pick off of a soloist who at least had the sense to stay put after a sudden squall left the rock wet and slippery. (Source: Brad Shilling, Climbing Ranger)