Fall on Rock, Inadequate Protection, North Carolina, Crowders Mountain State Park, Red Wall

Publication Year: 2008.


North Carolina, Crowders Mountain State Park, Red Wall

Late in the afternoon of May 13, D. Frank and his partner M. Nagem (45) were attempting a rock climb (route unknown) on the Red Wall. Frank was an experienced climber who frequently climbed in the park. According to park personnel, Frank had led the route and upon descent, had left his quick-draws in place. Ms. Nagem then attempted the climb clipping into the preset gear as she climbed. During a point in the climb, Nagen was just out of reach of the next protection point when she asked Frank for slack so she could clip into the next quick-draw. Frank complied, and it was at this point in the climb when Nagem slipped and fell approximately 20 feet, sustaining injuries to both her left leg and arm, and experienced tingling and numbness in those extremities.

It took approximately 30 minutes for paramedics to arrive and approximately another hour to get the patient packaged and moved off the mountain to a waiting ambulance.


In this case Ms. Nagem’s fall could have been prevented if a top rope protected her. She could have attempted the climb with this safeguard in place, allowing her to focus on technique, clipping protection, and building her confidence. (Source: Edited from reports by D. R. Tenney, CMSP Ranger, and Aram Attarian)

(Editor’s Note: Another incident of note in North Carolina occurred at Crowder’s Mountain. A climber was being lowered when his partner couldn’t hold onto the rope while lowering him. Evidently‚e climber was 40 pounds heavier than the belayer. This has become a common–place incident. The remedy is well known. A belay device designed to provide higher friction for catching heavier climbers and/or attaching the belayer to an anchor to provide better control of the climber‚ especially when weight is a concern‚ is the accepted protocol.)