FALL ON ROCK, PLACED NO PROTECTION
California, High Sierra, Middle Palisade
On August 22, a group of eight Sierra Club members were ascending the Northeast Face of Middle Palisade (3rd class). The party was moving adequately, but slowly. The party was unroped. All members of the party were wearing helmets. Near the top of the first chute, where the route bears left, they met with two other parties descending the route. The descending parties, one guide with two clients (roped) and one solo climber, set about passing the group. At some time during this transition, Brian Reynolds (31), who was facing the cliff, stepped back one step too far and fell backwards. Brian landed headfirst 30 feet down and continued to fall until he was out of sight. All three groups descended to check on Brian’s condition, while calling the Inyo County Sheriffs office for Search and Rescue support. There was a trail of blood leading downwards. At the base of the route, just above the Norman Clyde Glacier, Brian was found. He was pronounced dead immediately. Inyo SAR arrived within about one hour and verified Brian’s condition as deceased.
Additional SAR team members were inserted to assist, while the climbing parties continued their descent to Brainard Lake. Due to high winds and deteriorating weather conditions, the body recovery was postponed until the following day. Early the following day, the body was flown out via long line. Analysis
The route is steep and dangerous. It is nominally rated as 3rd class, but a fall is likely to be fatal due to the steep nature of the terrain. Passing of other climbers can be hazardous because of the positioning. Being able to anchor in when passing other climbers is always a consideration. (Source: Dave German)