American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Rock Broke Off, Fall on Rock, Climbing Unroped, Failure to Test Holds, Inadequate Protection, Inexperience — Kentucky, Red River Gorge State Park

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

ROCK BROKE OFF, FALL ON ROCK, CLIMBING UNROPED, FAILURE TO TEST HOLDS, INADEQUATE PROTECTION, INEXPERIENCE

Kentucky, Red River Gorge State Park

On October 2, a climber (22) was on top of Courthouse Rock looking for an anchor placement for rappelling. He had his harness on but was unroped. He went near the edge and the rock broke off underneath him, resulting in his fall off the cliff of about 75 feet, with an additional 25 feet of tumbling at the bottom. His partner went to get help, and three hours later, a search and rescue team arrived and brought the victim out on a rolling backboard. He suffered a pneumothorax and fractured arms.

Analysis

Rappelling is a very popular activity in this park. The victim reported that he had limited experience and was unfamiliar with the area. The sandstone in this area is unstable, but there are plenty of trees to anchor to while exploring around the top of the cliff. Many of the accidents here are the result of hikers, etc., getting drunk and falling off. (Source: Jason Maddux, M.D.)

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