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Fall on Rock, Inadequate Belay Anchor, Arizona, Superior, Queen Creek


Arizona, Superior, Queen Creek

I was climbing in Atlantis, Queen Creek, on a 5.10, which really has no belay spot directly below the climb, so my belayer set up on the other side of the creek bed, about seven meters away from the wall I was to climb on. All was well until I fell above the fourth bolt. I anticipated the fall, and conveyed this to my belayer. (“Oh shit, I’m falling!!”) It probably only took about a second and a half for the fall, but I saw each bolt go by, and I saw three go by and wondered, “Why haven’t I stopped by now?” After I did finally stop, I was only about four feet above a ledge, and my belayer was nowhere to be seen. After shouting out, I discovered that she had been pulled off her boulder (not anchored) and swung across the creek bed and slammed into the cliff on the climb’s side. As she was using a Black Diamond ATC and not a GriGri, I can’t believe she didn’t let go of the rope to break her fall. Thank God she didn’t, because I would now be toast.


What I learned: No matter how much your belayer weighs, anchor them down! I hope someone learns from our mistake and can avoid an accident (of this kind). (Source: Keri Means—33)