American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall or Slip on Rock, Inadequate Belay, Inexperienced, North Carolina, Looking Glass Rock

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

FALL OR SLIP ON ROCK, INADEQUATE BELAY, INEXPERIENCED

North Carolina, Looking Glass Rock

On May 8, a male climber (31) and his female partner were attempting an unknown rock climb when he fell and broke his ankle. It was broken on both sides and will need surgery, plates, screws, and pins, to put it back together. Other climbers in the area assisted him to the trailhead.

No one on the scene is sure why he fell, but the evidence suggests that he was new to the area and got himself in over his head. His girlfriend was belaying with a GriGri, but was not a climber herself. Climbers near the scene reported he was climbing on eyebrows above a crack on a 5.6 single pitch route, possibly “Good Intentions”, when they heard him yell, “Take!” His girlfriend yelled back, “Don’t fall, wait!” He yelled back that his hands were too slick and he couldn’t hold on any longer and to “take” and get ready for the fall. She yelled back, “Please, no, wait!”

When he fell it looked like his last piece was at his feet and he was squatting before bailing off and taking a 20-foot fall. By the time he was caught, he swung into a big bulge and immediately broke his ankle.

Witnesses reported that it appeared that his belayer had a significant amount of time to take up the slack but didn’t know how to take in slack quickly on a GriGri.

Analysis

Moral of the story: belaying is a climbing skill that should not be taken lightly, familiarize yourself (and your significant other) with your chosen belay device! Down-climbing is an important basic climbing skill that every climber should embrace. (Source: From a post on carolinaclimbers.org, May 9).

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