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Fall on Rock, Climbing Unroped—Trying to Save Time, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak

FALL ON ROCK, CLIMBING UNROPED-TRYING TO SAVE TIME

Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak

On July 6, Cameron Tague (32) and Emma Williams (34) were attempting the Yellow Wall Route (V 5.11) on the Diamond of Longs Peak. Tague was climbing unroped on a steep band of rotten 4th class rock at the base of the Yellow Wall Route looking for a belay on better rock. Tague slipped on loose rock and fell 800 feet to his death over the Lower East Face and onto Mills Glacier.

Analysis

Tague was an outstanding climber with approximately 30 ascents of routes on the Diamond face, including a new route. His strategy in climbing unroped was to save time and increase his party’s margin of safety later in the day by finishing the route before the afternoon lightning storms would arrive. However, in retrospect, it may have been better to simul-climb with protection placed at intervals. The North Chimney (access route to the Diamond) and Broadway Ledge are notorious for rotten rock, conditions that have claimed other capable climbers in these same areas. (Source: Jim Detterline and Mark Magnuson, NPS Rangers, RMNP)