American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Rappel Error — Faulty Use of Equipment, Stranded, Inexperience, Poor Route Research, Alberta, Jasper National Park, Morrow Peak

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

RAPPEL ERROR – FAULTY USE OF EQUIPMENT, STRANDED, INEXPERIENCE, POOR ROUTE RESEARCH

Alberta, Jasper National Park, Morrow Peak

On July 18, MJ and AB left the climbers parking lot at 0930 to climb Morrow Peak via the guide’s route. Weather was good but deteriorating slowly by the afternoon with clouds, light winds, and sprinkles. They ascended to the top just below the upper treed bench. They were unaware of the hiking trail down in the treed bench and proceeded to rappel down the route using tree anchors. Their rappel set-up consisted of MJ using an ATC attached to himself with AB connected to him and his rappel device via a daisy chain and screw-lock carabiners. MJ controlled their descent. The carabiner connecting AB to the daisy chain was not locked. Fifteen feet into their second rappel down sloping and benched limestone, the carabiner opened and disconnected from the daisy chain. MJ caught AB with his arm before she could fall. They stopped, sat down, and called 911 using a cellphone. Jasper National Park Public Safety Specialists responded and heli-slung them out to the highway below.

Analysis

They had only been climbing four months. They had no helmets and minimal gear. Continuing on the rappel line down would have led them into much more serious terrain. They did not research the route adequately as they were unaware of the hiking trail down. Despite the situation they created for themselves, stopping and calling for assistance facilitated a positive outcome. (Source: G. Lemke, Public Safety Specialist, Jasper National Park)

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