American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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Rappelling Error — Uneven Ropes, Haste, Colorado, Ouray Ice Park, New Frontier

  • Accident Reports
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  • Publication Year: 2010


Colorado, Ouray Ice Park, New Frontier

A climber rappelled off the end of his rope on February 17. He explained that he was in a rush. He set up an anchor, clipped the rope to the middle mark, threw the rope, started rapping, and suddenly found himself falling/ tumbling. He mistook the 15-foot mark for the middle mark of the rope. Luckily he was at New Frontier, so he only fell approximately 30 feet. Had it been elsewhere, the fall would have been much, much worse. He suffered only a broken ankle and wrist.


A few tips to rappel safely: Know your rope’s midpoint, tie bulky knots in both ends of the rope to jam in your rappel device; use a backup such as a autoblock, prusik, or kleimheist knot on the rope; clip to your harness with a locking carabiner, have your partner double-check all systems, and finally, visually check that the rope ends reach the next station or the ground before you rappel (Source: Edited from a report on posted on 2/18/09) climbers never stated that a 70m rope would not be long enough for the route. It’s a popular, 3 1/2 star route, so I would have thought if there were any descending issues that they would be noted. Having said that, the length of the route should have given me the information I needed. The route itself is 130 feet long, thus requiring 260 feet of rope. My 70m only measures 230 feet. Even with rope stretch, it still isn’t long enough. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay attention to route length before heading out. From now on, knots will always be placed in rope ends and route length will always be on the top of my mind. (Source: Edited from a report by Chad Mauer, Castle Rock, CO)

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