American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Rappel Error — Threaded Ropes Incorrectly, Fall on Rock, Colorado, Garden of the Gods, Red Twin Spire

  • Accident Reports
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  • Publication Year: 2010


Colorado, Garden of the Gods, Red Twin Spire

During the afternoon on February 7, a climber (21) fell over 50 feet sustaining serious life-threatening injuries. He had just climbed the popular route Potholes, a moderate 5.8 route up the steep east face of Red Twin Spire in the Gateway area. The 55-foot-high route, protected by four fixed pitons and bolts, works up a series of potholes to an airy exit and a small summit the size of a dining room table. At the edge of the summit is an anchor composed of fixed pitons linked together with chain for top-roping, lowering, and rappelling.

The climber apparently untied, threaded his rope through a large quick- link on the chains, and prepared to rappel with a figure-8 descender. He failed, however, to thread both sides of his rope through the descender and locking carabiner, instead just securing one side in the device. So when he stood up and weighted the rope, it zipped through the quick-link and dropped him down the vertical face to a concrete sidewalk, which surrounds Red Twin Spire and neighboring White Twin Spire. The Colorado Springs Fire Department high-angle rescue team responded and evacuated the climber. (Source: website -

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