American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock—No Belay, Lack of Communication, Alberta, Banff National Park, Back of the Lake

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2001

FALL ON ROCK-NO BELAY, LACK OF COMMUNICATION

Alberta, Banff National Park, Back of the Lake

On June 17, two experienced sport climbers were climbing a 25-meter, 5.11a route called Mardi Gras. G.H. (36) had just finished the route on a top rope, and yelled down, “Okay,” thinking that he was going to be lowered by the belayer, T.G. (35). The belayer yelled up, “Okay,” and removed the rope from her belay device, thinking that G.H. was going to rappel. G.H. paused to straighten the rope, then let go of the anchor chain and leaned back. G.H. free-fell for approximately 19 meters before T.G. grabbed the rope and managed to stop the fall with her bare hands. She was quickly assisted by neighboring climbers and later treated for severe rope burns to both hands.

Analysis

This incident shows the reason for the development of standard climbing signals. It is extremely important for climbers not to become too casual with their communication. (Source: G.H., Nancy Hansen)

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