American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Rockfall, Fall on Rock, Colorado, Boulder Canyon, Redgarden Wall

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

ROCKFALL, FALL ON ROCK

Colorado, Boulder Canyon, Redgarden Wall

I was on pitch 4 of Rewritten (5.7) on August 1 when the party above me yelled down that the block was loose. I’ve climbed Rewritten before and I knew about the infamous refrigerator block balanced on the ledge above me. I didn’t think too much about the warning and kept climbing. When I got to the block, I carefully traversed around it, but when I came to the right side of the block, I stepped on a rock and my foot sank, nudging the block just enough causing it to move. I thought it might miss me, but then it hit my rope and forced me off the ledge headfirst. I ended up falling the entire pitch and was about even with my belayer when the rope finally stopped me! I yelled, “Rock!” as loud as I could, but “rock” was an understatement! I knew others were directly below me and was VERY relieved to find that they were ok. The route was completely covered in dust, pebbles, and some good-sized pieces of rock. After walking around the base of the cliff, I found tree limbs and exploded rock everywhere. My partner’s pack was destroyed along with some of its contents. I am thankful that nobody got seriously hurt and that I was wearing my helmet.

Analysis

Loose rock is a common occurrence in many climbing areas. The best way to manage this objective hazard is to, if possible, avoid climbing in areas where loose rock is a known hazard; don’t climb below other parties; don’t stage, or socialize at the base of suspect routes; evaluate rock integrity as you climb; test holds before committing to them; tread lightly around loose rock; and, of course, wear a helmet. (Source: Micah Issac, Boulder, CO, from a report on mountainproject.com)

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