American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Inadequate Belay, Inexperience, Alberta, Banff National Park, Grotto Canyon, Paintings Walls

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2005



Alberta, Banff National Park, Grotto Canyon, Paintings Wall

On July 18, a climber who fell roughly 30 feet off a wall near the pictographs at Grotto Canyon was rescued. J.G. (51) was leading a 5.9 climb at Grotto Canyon when he slipped and fell 30 feet. He hit a large boulder, bounced off it, then hit the ground, sustaining multiple injuries. A nurse who was nearby did initial first aid, then she ran to the road to call 911 on her cell phone, as there is no coverage in the canyon.

The man had head injuries and had been unconscious for at least one hour by the time that rescuers arrived. He also had irregular shallow breathing, accompanied by gurgling noises, so he was given oxygen. A tricky maneuver executed by Alpine Helicopters pilot Paul Maloney helicopter allowed J.G to be slung out of the canyon. He was then stabilized and transferred to Calgary via the STARS air ambulance. Although he was in critical condition on July 18th, he was in stable condition the following day.


Bystanders described the accident as being due to an inattentive or inexperienced belayer who had left too much slack in the rope. (Source: Burke Duncan)

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