American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Protection Pulled Out, Alberta, Ghost River, Duveinafees

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2003

FALL ON ROCK, PROTECTION PULLED OUT

Alberta, Ghost River, Duveinafees

On October 8, around 1400, B.W. was leading the second pitch of Duveinfafees (5.7) when his right foot slipped while bridging and lay-backing a comer. He pulled a fixed pin, a cam (2.5 Friend) and was caught by two fixed pins slung together. He fell about 25 meters hitting a ledge in a crouching stance about halfway into the fall. He landed two meters below and eight meters to the right of the belay. He sustained a femur fracture in the fall. His partner yelled for help and proceeded to lower his partner to the base of the cliff. He thendescended to the valley and drove away to get help. A party on the opposite side of valley who had heard calls could find no one at the road, so they drove down the gravel road looking for the vehicle they had seen earlier. They caught up to other climber who was having car trouble. At this point, they would have been within cell range or only a few minutes away from it. They discussed the situation and decided to go back to the site and try and move the victim down to the road. Once back at the scene, there was more discussion on moving the victim or going for help. One of them again left the scene, got in a vehicle, and, around the same location where the two vehicles had met earlier, was able to make a cell phone call. This call came in about three hours after the accident at 1700. Warden Service rescue crews responded. The patient was removed by heli-sling and flown to Banff Hospital.

Analysis

Fractured femurs are serious and considered potentially life threatening. It appears that the discussion on whether to try and move the patient rather than go for help revolved around the concern of rescue costs. They did not incur any rescue costs. It would have been very difficult to lower this patient a few hundred feet over scree and rough ground to the valley below without a stretcher. If the patient had survived this, the multi-hour trip over rough roads to the nearest hospital would likely have seriously exacerbated the situation. (Source: Parks Canada Warden Service, Marc Ledwidge)

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