American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Inadequate Equipment-Rope Too Short, Failure to Tie Stopper Knot, No Hard Hat, Colorado, Eldorado Canyon, Red Garden Wall

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

FALL ON ROCK, INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT–ROPE TOO SHORT, FAILURE TO TIE STOPPER KNOT, NO HARD HAT

Colorado, Eldorado Canyon, Red Garden Wall

On October 13, Kelly Elverum (34) was being lowered down Darkness ’til Dawn (5.9+) when the end of the climbing rope slipped through the belay device because the rope was not long enough to reach to the ground. The fall was about 35 feet, and the climber sustained serious head injuries. Neither climber was wearing a helmet.

Analysis

One way to prevent this from happening if one is not sure as to whether the rope will be long enough is to secure the end of the rope at the belay stance.

Leo Paik has this to say: As far as I know, there has never been an accident on Darkness ’til Dawn before. Myself, for Darkness, I usually take two ropes (which works well for protecting the traverse moves into the corner low down). The one-rope descent is to rappel/lower carefully to very close to the end of the rope, then scramble down 25 feet or so on steep third-class rock. (Sources: Steve Muelhauser—Park Manager II, Eldorado Canyon, and Leo Paik)

(Editor's Note: There were a total of eight accidents reported from Eldorado Canyon this year. Two of them seemed to be hikers or scramblers who got caught in a climbing situation. Four were the residt of inadequate protection, and one involved pulling loose a rock that nearly severed a finger.)

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