American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Inadequate Protection—Pulled Out, Late Start—Impending Darkness, Off Route, Inexperience, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, The Book

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

FALL ON ROCK, INADEQUATE PROTECTION-PULLED OUT, LATE START- IMPENDING DARKNESS, OFF ROUTE, INEXPERIENCE

Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, The Book

On July 1, Mike Head (26) and Levois “Adolph” Garcia were attempting to climb Osiris (II 5.7) on The Book. Head, the leader, got off route on the final pitch and fell from a section of 5.10 rock as he was attempting to place protection. He pulled the next piece of protection out as he fell, sustaining a 50-foot fall and fracturing three bones in his right foot. He anchored himself to a small tree and called for Garcia to ascend to him, but Garcia was unable to climb up to Head. Head used his cell phone to contact park rescue, who responded with a night cliff evacuation. Head’s fractures were extensive, requiring surgery and a cast for two to three months.

Analysis

There were a number of smaller factors coupled with the relative inexperience of this party that led up to this accident. The pair had a guidebook with them, but did not refer to it during the climb. They started rather late—at 1530—for a four-pitch climb, plus a two-mile walk back to the car. Finally, although Head was dealing very well with his first 5.10 lead, he unfortunately fell before he could clip the piece, and then the next lower piece was inadequately placed to hold a fall. Head said that he did feel rushed on this pitch with impending darkness, so this was also a factor. (Source: Jim Detterline and Mark Magnuson, NPS Rangers, RMNP)

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