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Fall on Rock, Inadequate Protection, West Virginia, New River Gorge, Endless Wall

FALL ON ROCK, INADEQUATE PROTECTION

West Virginia, New River Gorge, Endless Wall

On November 12, rangers and Fayette County Emergency Services personnel rescued a climber (age unknown) who had fallen at the Endless Wall climbing area. Rangers Randy Fisher and Karl Keach, working with only a general description of the location of the accident, received through a 911 call, searched for and found the caller, who led them to the scene. Keach coordinated the rescue from the top of the cliff while Fisher employed a series of ladders and ropes to reach the injured climber, who had suffered numerous fractures and lacerations. An 80-foot litter raise was conducted to bring him to the top of the cliff. He was then wheeled out on a litter and flown to the Charleston area trauma center.

Analysis

An investigation revealed that the climber had removed his gear from the second bolt and was attempting to down-climb when he fell about 20 feet as he tried to traverse from the route he was on to another route called “Nasty Groove.”

This was the fourth time a climber has fallen this year—a significant increase in climbing-related incidents. The causes included bad belays, traditional gear pulling from the rock, and poor climbing decisions. New River Gorge is a world-class climbing destination, with 1600 traditional and sport routes. It has miles of high-quality sandstone cliffs with an extraordinary diversity of climbing routes. (Source: From reports submitted by Gary Hartley, Chief Ranger, and Aram Attarian)

(Editor’s Note: While Ranger Hartley indicates that the number of incidents represents a “significant increase,it would seem to be a low number given the popularity of this climbing area. Estimates of climbers visiting here each year run from several hundred to over a thousand.)