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Fall from Rock While Setting Up Rappel, No Helmet, Tennessee, Prentice Cooper State Park

FALL FROM ROCK WHILE SETTING UP RAPPEL, NO HELMET

Tennessee, Prentice Cooper State Park

On May 1, Chris Chesnutt (30) and two friends, Jerry Roberts (34) and Travis Eisman (30) spent a long day climbing in an undeveloped area in Prentice Cooper State Park (just west of Chattanooga). Following the completion of a new route they named Ironic (5.11), Chris moved away from the cliff edge and, feeling comfortable with his position, untied from the rope and began setting up a rappel. As Chris reported, “It was getting dark fast and I wanted to get back to camp before darkness fell. In the process of setting up the rappel, I apparently mis-stepped and fell backward 80 feet to rocks below.” Chris sustained multiple injuries, including a fracture to the upper face and mandible and fracture to both feet (right calcaneous, closed fracture of the left calcaneous and talus), a fractured left arm (both radius and humerus), a compression fracture of C-5 vertebrae, and a pelvic fracture. He was not wearing a helmet.

Analysis

I believe the combination of low light, exhaustion, and hurriedness contributed to my misjudging the security of my stance. In that situation remaining tied in to a tree or some other anchor would have prevented the fall”. (Source: Chris Chesnutt)

(Editor's Note: Living to tell this story was a minor miracle. The medical and rescue report on this incident was most interesting. There was one other report from Tennessee. There were few details, but it involved a fall from rock at Foster Falls State Park, resulting in a fractured arm and leg. We know there is a lot of climbing going on at both these parks, so we need some reliable reporting.)