American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Inadequate Tie-In for Lowering, No Hard Hat, Colorado, Clear Creek Canyon, Cat Slab

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

FALL ON ROCK, INADEQUATE TIE-IN FOR LOWERING, NO HARD HAT

Colorado, Clear Creek Canyon, Cat Slab

On April 24, Heather Lower (25) died in Clear Creek Canyon. She was climbing west of Tunnel 5. (A few areas there include: Cat Slab, Dog House, Primo Wall, and Crystal Tower.) She was with eight others. She fell 100-12 5 feet. She was not wearing a helmet. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Analysis

She was at Cat Slab, a new 5.4-5.10 bolted slab where folks often anchor themselves and thread the anchors to lower/rap. She was about to be lowered and apparently undipped the wrong figure-8 on a bight loop from her harness and then failed to check that she was indeed on belay to be lowered off using a sling-shot belay. Tying in directly to the harness avoids this kind of problem. (Source: Leo Paik and Bill May)

(Editor’s Note: There was another fatality at this area earlier in the year. The little information we have suggests that, as in the above case, the climber was being lowered and the system didn't work, because he dropped 60 feet. Unfortunately, lowering incidents like this are on the increase. See the next one!)

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