American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Inappropriate Call to 911, North Carolina, Rumbling Bald, Drivin and Cryin

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

FALL ON ROCK, INAPPROPRIATE CALL TO 911

North Carolina, Rumbling Bald, Drivin and Cryin

On May 21, while preparing to climb, an EMS vehicle entered the Rumbling Bald parking lot. One of the EMT’s asked if anyone had called 911, noting that someone had called saying they had fallen “below the cliff’. Without further conversation, he left the parking lot. Shortly thereafter, other rescue personnel began to arrive, including two state park rangers, assorted volunteer firemen, paramedics, and rescue vehicles!

My partner and I left the lot and hiked to the climb Gunboat Diplomacy. Upon arriving, we heard someone yelling. I walked over to investigate and found a climber sitting below Drivin and Cryin (5.10a) with an obviously swollen ankle but otherwise okay. He stated that he fell above the first bolt (bolt was clipped) and broke his ankle. I followed by telling him that a group of rescue personnel were on their way.

Shortly thereafter, a group of approximately ten rescuers arrived. The climber was assessed for injuries and after some consultation, he walked out under his own power with minimal assistance.

Analysis

Climbers have a responsibility to attempt a self-rescue and that calling 911 should be the very, very last option. Climbers should take personal responsibility for being in the mountains and climbing safely. By adopting skills and gaining the appropriate knowledge, training, and experience, climbers can reduce risks to acceptable limits. More rescues, especially unnecessary ones performed by local and government agencies, have the potential to impact the climbing community negatively. (Source: Will Byrum from a posting on carolinaclimbers.org, May 22, and Aram Attarian)

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