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Fall or Slip on Rock—Two Incidents, Colorado, Black Canyon of the Gunnison


Colorado, Black Canyon of the Gunnison

On June 17, Zach Alberts (20) fell while leading a climb of the 5.10+ Cruise route. Alberts was climbing about 10 feet above his last piece of protection when he lost his footing, slipped and fell, sustaining possible fractures to both ankles. Alberts’ climbing partner contacted North Rim Ranger Ed Delmolino at 9:30 p.m. Delmolino treated Alberts’ injuries and monitored his condition through the night until rescue operations could begin the following morning. Park and local rescue teams raised Alberts up the North Chasm wall over 1,500 feet to the rim of the canyon. The mission took about five hours and over 25 rescuers to complete. Marion Parker was IC.

On July 9, Martha Moses (41) fell while lead-climbing Cruise Gully after she and her partner abandoned a climb on the Leisure route. Moses was climbing 50 feet above her first protection in intermittent rain when she apparently lost her footing, fell and tumbled about 80 feet, sustaining severe head injuries. Her partner contacted ranger Ed Delmolino, who responded along with a paramedic from a local EMS squad.

The nighttime litter evacuation involved lowering her down the remainder of the gully in rain, lightning, and continuous rock falls. Moses was then raised over 1,500 feet up the North Chasm wall to the rim and flown by helicopter to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, where she underwent surgery for a skull fracture.

The entire operation took 12 hours and involved 50 rescuers and support personnel, including a number of local, county, and volunteer rescue squads. These two operations constitute the most significant technical raises to date in the park. (Source: Linda Alick, Black Canyon of the Gunnison)

(Editor's Note: These are the first reports from Black Canyon in a long time. It is interesting to note their final comment, which might explain this.)