American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Inadequate Protection, Rock Broke Off, No Hard Hat, Colorado, Garden of the Gods, Three Graces

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2006


Colorado, Garden of the Gods, Three Graces

In mid-August, a young male local climber died as a result of a fall from this formation. In talking with the search and rescue folks, I learned that he was climbing up the south ridge on the easternmost of the three slabs of rock that make up the Three Graces. He climbed up about 30 feet without protection, put in a cam behind a four-inch thick flake, and fell on the first move above the flake. A 12 x 12-inch chunk of the flake broke off as the cam expanded. The climber fell straight down about ten feet, then apparently his feet caught on the rock and he flipped over and landed headfirst.


Climbing this ridge may be relatively easy, but good protection is virtually nonexistent. In addition, the rock is rather funky, even by Garden of the Gods standards, and is even worse given the rains of the past couple of months. Climbing too high to a first protection point, counting on a cam behind a flake of weak, possibly wet sandstone, and not wearing a helmet may have all contributed to this tragic accident. (Source: From a posting by Bob Hostetler on

This ANAM article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.