American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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Falling Rock—Dislodged by Party Above, Wyoming, Devil's Tower National Monument, Pseudo Weissner

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


Wyoming, Devil's Tower National Monument, Pseudo Weissner

On May 29, Rita Sanders (46) of Bellview, Nebraska, was injured by a falling rock while climbing on Devils Tower. Sanders was climbing the Pseudo Weissner route with a friend and a professional guide when the accident occurred. She was preparing to climb the third pitch of the route and was attached to a set of anchor bolts when a 10- to 12-inch diameter rock was dislodged by a party climbing approximately 300 feet above her. The rock struck her in the helmet, left arm and left ankle, causing multiple injuries, including several broken bones. Sander’s guide provided initial care and was lowered with Sanders 200 feet to the base of the route by another climbing party. Rangers and other climbers then packaged and lowered her in a litter through another 100 feet of vertical terrain. Sanders was then flown by the Rapid City Regional Lifeflight helicopter to Rapid City, South Dakota. (Source: Scott Brown, Chief Ranger)


Climbing on the Devil’s Tower brings with it an inherent risk these days. It would have been easy to add “poor position” as one of the contributory causes here, but that’s the point. It’s hard NOT to be in the fall-line here. Nevertheless, climbers must take even greater care to avoid causing rocks to fall. This is as important a skill to learn as all other climbing techniques. (Source: Jed Williamson)

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