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Fall on Rock, Protection Pulled Out—Inadequate Protection, Idaho, City of Rocks National Reserve, Bath Rock

FALL ON ROCK, PROTECTION PULLED OUT–INADEQUATE PROTECTION

Idaho, City of Rocks National Reserve, Bath Rock

On June 27 around 11 a.m., climber Chris Weber (age unknown) fell 25-30 feet from Bath Rock, causing a compound fracture to his wrist and possible fracture to his elbow, shoulder, leg, hip, and/or pelvis. Belay partner John Fuller described the incident as follows:

Chris was on the 10c route Donini’s Crack. He was just below the crux of the climb. He had placed a #1 cam, which did not hold when he took a short fall. After approximately five feet of fall, he weighted another cam that also failed to hold, leaving the belayer insufficient distance to catch the climber’s fall prior to hitting the ground.

Within a few minutes, off duty employee Lucus Hengel was alerted to the incident and quickly reported it to CIRO base via radio. Employees Randy Farley and Tom Harper responded. 911 was called and the Almo QRU was dispatched. Life Flight from the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City and LR1 from Burley were dispatched. Superintendent Wallace Keck was also notified within minutes. Cassia Sheriff Deputy Clark Ward was also en route. CIRO employees were on scene within 20 minutes of the fall. Farley began emergency care, with Harper assisting. Care included basic assessment, oxygen and splinting in preparation for transport. Keck took statements and gathered information.

Life Flight arrived at the landing zone at 12:18 p.m. The patient was always conscious, and did not appear to sustain any head injury. The patient was alert and coherently communicating upon departure from CIRO. No further information concerning the patient was determined prior to this report.

Analysis

Both climbs can be protected adequately though “Terror of Tiny Town” is a precarious layback using very small cams, and Donini’s Crack (in the area of the fall) requires utilizing somewhat subtle pods for pro. An above average ability to place and assess the quality of removable protection is indicated on both climbs.

Note that there were climbing accidents in the City of Rocks/Castle Rocks that Park personnel didn’t hear about until well afterwards. (Source: Brad Schilling, Climbing Ranger)

(Editor’s Note: There are lots of “falls on rock” at this climbing area, which are to be expected given that climbers are trying to climb harder routes here. Most do not result in injury, but many of the ones that do go unreported for obvious reasons.)