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Fall on Rock, Foothold Broke—Failure to Test Holds, Alberta, Mount John Laurie (Yamnuska)


Alberta, Mount John Laurie (Yamnuska)

On September 29, two experienced climbers were ascending the Redshirt route on Yamnuska (II, 5.7). On the fourth pitch, leader I.H. (51) traversed left, clipped a bolt, and then began the five-meter, somewhat diagonal down-climb to the next belay station. He could not see the belay below him, and spent a few minutes searching around. As he stepped back and forth, his foot settled on a patch of loose rock that gave way. He lost his balance and fell upside down in a pendulum fall of five to six meters. His rack of rock protection ended up between his back and the rock, injuring his ribs. He was able to climb back up to his partner and was then lowered to the base of the route. Fearing further injury on the steep hike out, the climbers called Natural Resource Services, Kananaskis Country, when they reached the base of the cliff.


Yamnuska is a very popular traditional rock climbing cliff with over 70 multipitch routes. It is also renowned for having sections of loose rock. Climbers must be vigilant about testing each and every hand and foot hold before trusting their weight to it. Some climbers argue that it is wise for the lead climber to wear a pack, even if it only has some light clothing in it. Packs have been known to prevent climbers from suffering back injuries during a fall. On the other hand, packs have also been known to cause falls when they catch on rock or pull the climber off balance. (Source: I.H. and Nancy Hansen)