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Fall on Ice, Inadequate Protection, Miscommunication, Colorado, Ouray Ice Park


Colorado, Ouray Ice Park

In January, a 140-foot fall at the Ouray Ice Park resulted in fatality for an experienced climber, Pete Ro, who was participating in a master’s ice climbing class with a group who had extensive experience ice climbing. He had just led up a pillar of ice. When he reached the top he yelled what sounded like, “Off belay,” or “Okay.” But he was not clipped into the top-out anchors. One of the nearby guides heard him yell this out. The man yelled out, “Off belay!” again, but was still not clipped in. Hearing the command, his belayer went off belay, so when Mr. Ro leaned backward or lost his balance, he fell off, hitting a ledge on the way down.” (Source: Taken from a report by Marc Beverly PA-S) (Editor's Note: This case has more details to it, but is currently in potential litigation. Ouray Ice Park is a busy place during the festival. Communications can be difficult. Climbers, whether they are experienced, relatively new to the sport, or clients of a guide, need to follow basic and obvious directions, such as voice commands and clipping in to anchors.