American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Rappel/Lowering Failure—Fall on Rock, No Hard Hat, Colorado, Boulder Canyon

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

RAPPEL/LOWERING FAILURE—FALL ON ROCK, NO HARD HAT

Colorado, Boulder Canyon

On June 22, two climbers were on a route behind Boulder Falls in Boulder Canyon. The leader, who had more than 20 years of rock climbing experience, topped out and placed an anchor. He was then lowered on that anchor by his belayer. While he was still 25 feet above the ground, the belayer lost control when the end of the rope ran through his belay device. The leader was dropped and sustained numerous injuries, including a serious head injury.

Analysis

The leader survived with a severe head injury. The two climbers reportedly had recently met and were doing their first climb together. The climbers underestimated the length of the climb and over estimated the length of their rope. The belayer was not watching the end of the rope nor was there a safety knot tied to prevent the end from passing through. The leader was not wearing a helmet. (Source: From a report by the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group)

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