American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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Fall on Rock, Falling Rock—Climber Standing on Large Rock When It Came Loose, Climbing Unroped, Colorado, Little Bear, Northwest Face

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2007


Colorado, Little Bear, Northwest Face

On July 2 about 10:00 a.m., an experienced climber died from a fall taken from the upper headwall (just below the Blanca-Little Bear ridge) of the Northwest Face route on Little Bear. The party he was in was not roped at the time. He tried to move on a large rock that appeared to be solid. It came off on top of him. The initial fall was about 20 feet, but he continued to tumble down for about 300-400 feet. He died during the fall/tumble from multiple head contusions (though he was wearing a Petzl Ecrin Rock helmet), severe internal injuries, and severely broken extremities (including neck).

The rescue-turned-recovery operation began almost immediately due to radio communications available in the area. His partners reached him about 20 minutes before assistance arrived. A nurse and an experienced SAR member concurred that he was deceased.

The recovery operation began immediately. The body was lowered 700- 800 feet to the scree field below the lower headwall where the county SAR team took over from the climbers. Sleet and rain hampered the operation, in particular over the waterfall in the gully north of the “Black Hand.” The body was then driven out by one of the SAR team members. The operation was wrapped up at about 10:00 p.m. His partners were uninjured. (Source: From a report by Theo Barker, SAR member who happened to be nearby. His wife is the nurse mentioned)

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