American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall or Slip on Rock, Climbing Alone, Colorado, Eldorado Canyon State Park, Bastille, Werk Supp

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2009

FALL OR SLIP ON ROCK, CLIMBING ALONE

Colorado, Eldorado Canyon State Park, Bastille, Werk Supp

Michael Hankins (47), an experienced and highly regarded climber from Oklahoma set out to solo Werk Supp (5.9) on July 22. He fell when he was 50 feet into the climb. Hankins was airlifted to St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver. He suffered compound fractures to both his legs and left arm, a broken pelvis and brain injury. He later died from his injuries.

Analysis

Dave Secunda, who is a member of the Colorado Mountain Rescue Group, said Hankins was climbing using one of the most technically challenging methods—solo climbing—without the aid of ropes or harnesses. “Soloing is not the way that most people climb,” he said. “It is an elite, high-end part of the sport. He was at the absolute extreme of the spectrum of risk that climbers take. There is no backup system. Climbing [has some inherent risks], and I think we all, as climbers, embrace those potential risks when we go out there. I think the right response is to pause and extend our thoughts and prayers to the people involved. (Source: H. Urie, The Daily Camera—July 23, mountainproject.com, and Dave Secunda, Rocky Mountain Rescue Group)

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