FALL ON ROCK, PROTECTION FAlLED—ROCK BLOCK, FAILURE TO TEST HOLD
Alberta, Jasper National Park, Hidden Valley
On May 19, Peter R. (49) and Jack W. were climbing a single pitch route in Hidden Valley, a quiet climbing area east of Jasper. While leading, Peter decided to sling a large block to use as protection. When weighted, the block pulled out and Peter fell about 20 feet onto a scree slope, tumbling down to a point level with his belayer. His first piece of protection prevented him from falling any further; however, the large block fell on and crushed his right ankle. After making him as comfortable as he could, his partner ran down to the road, 40 minutes away, and phoned Parks emergency dispatch. Park Wardens responded on foot to the accident scene, where they stabilized the patient and splinted his foot. Another Warden and a Jasper Medic flew into the scene and evacuated the injured climber by helicopter sling rescue to an ambulance waiting at the road.
Rock quality in this part of the world can be quite suspect at times, especially on climbs that do not receive a high traffic volume. There is ample shattered limestone at the bottom of a number of the routes in Hidden Valley to provide clues about the rock quality in the area. Climbers would do well to visually inspect chosen natural protection carefully before weighting it. (Source: Parks Canada Warden Service, Jim Mamalis, Edwina Podemski)