American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Falling Rock, Failure to Test Holds, Leader's Lapse Lead to Misjudgment — Utah, Uinta Mountains — Between Gunsight Pass and Kings Peak

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

FALLING ROCK, FAILURE TO TEST HOLDS, LEADER’ S LAPSE LEAD TO MISJUDGMENT

Utah, Uinta Mountains – Between Gunsight Pass and Kings Peak

On June 29, Lucy (42), a beginning climber, was climbing above the leader (71) on an ascent near Kings Peak. She tried to stand on a precarious cluster of rocks and managed to dislodge four of them, varying in weight from an estimated 50 to 1,400 pounds. This resulted in a fractured ankle, multiple abrasions and lacerations, and a sprained knee.

Her leg was pinned under one rock, which had to be levered off. The ensuing rescue was complicated by the victim’s husband being in psychogenic shock and giving the wrong location of the accident to rangers via phone.

Analysis

Being slower at age 71 and on a remarkably stable slope, I allowed a novice climber to climb above me. Always enforce discipline with inexperienced members of climbing group. Never allow novices to lead unless closely controlled for training, even if terrain is apparently ultra easy. Anticipate surprise obstacles. (Source: Stan Sattelberg)

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