American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock — Rappelled off End of Ropes — North Carolina, Grandfather Mountain, Shiprock

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


North Carolina, Grandfather Mountain, Shiprock

Okie McCornis (28) and his partner spent July 17 climbing on Shiprock, a popular climbing area located on Grandfather Mountain’s East Side. After ascending B.O.G. (5.11), both climbers began their descent by rappelling from Boardwalk (5.8), a common rappel point. Both climbers had done this rappel twice during the day. They used a single rope doubled for the descent, making use of the intermediate station approximately 70 feet up the Boardwalk face on its leftmost side.

Prior to descending they heard thunder in the distance and rain was imminent. While on rappel, Okie forgot about using the intermediate rappel point and rappelled off the end of his rope. He landed at the base of Firepoint, luckily missing the large rocks at the base of the cliff. He sustained a broken left humerus, a bruised lung, several cracked lower vertebrae, and several small cuts.

He was packaged in a litter and carried to the Blue Ridge parkway a short distance away. He was transported to medical facilities in Johnson City, TN, via helicopter.


It is not known whether the impending thunderstorm may have hastened the descent. Climbers should take precautionary measures when rappelling by utilizing some type of safeguard or “backup.” Always tie a knot at the rope end; use a prusik or other backup (kleimheist knot, autoblock, etc); and be familiar with your surroundings. (Source: Randy Franklin)

This ANAM article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.