FALL ON ROCK, INADEQUATE PROTECTION—NO STOPPER KNOT, HASTE, INATTENTION
Alberta, Cougar Canyon, Slowpoke
“On Saturday, July 13, we gave a lesson on what happens when you vary from your normal safety routine and don’t check all your gear. We were putting up a top rope on Slowpoke, a 30-meter, 5.8-rated climb with a high first bolt and a high belay station (about 15 feet above Cougar creek) for a couple friends who had never climbed outside before. D.H. grabbed my short (55 meter) rope since someone else was eyeballing the route. A moment’s inattention and we both missed a critical part of our standard safety check— the stopper knot. D.H. was lowering down and had reached the second bolt when we ran out of rope and didn’t have a stopper knot. He free-fell about three meters and hit his head, bounced off the cliff fell another two to three meters and hit his head and body again, then bounced into the creek to land in a pool a little less than a meter deep. He went completely limp after the first hit and was just floating once he was in the water.
“Long story short: He came around really quickly and despite a very large head wound and some initial confusion, got his bearings and started making sense pretty soon. The paramedics helicoptered him out to Canmore then drove to Calgary. After x-rays, CT scans, poking, prodding and all those other tests the final prognosis was that he is basically ok. He’s just going to be really sore for a while. Oh, and the stitches come out in ten days. He’s got about 80 stitches in his poor head. His doctor stated: ‘If you hadn’t been wearing a helmet, you’d be an organ donor right now.’ He hit so hard that his helmet crushed down and cut him. D.H. feels like the luckiest man around to fall like that and be hurt so little. ‘I feel so lucky that we made a mistake like that and didn’t kill one of us.’” (Source: The victim’s partner, Ian Greant, and Edwina Podemski)