American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Inadequate Communication, Inadequate Belay – Belayer Not Ready

Canada, Alberta, Canadian Rockies, Wicked Gravity Wall

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year: 2009
  • Publication Year: 2010

On June 16, PH was sport climbing on the Wicked Gravity Wall at the Back of the Lake climbing area at Lake Louise, Banff National Park. He had done several routes and was climbing one last route to “cool down” before dark after a long afternoon and evening. After feeding the rope through the station, he neglected to inform his belayer that he was ready to be lowered and he just leaned back. The belayer was not holding the rope at the time and PH fell about 20 to 30 feet, striking a ledge with his feet on the way down. Eventually, the GriGri belay device stopped him just before a ground fall, but he suffered a badly broken ankle. Rescuers responded in the dark and PH was lowered in a stretcher over the steep terrain and then wheeled to the ambulance in a stretcher.

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