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Fall on Rock, Placed Inadequate Protection, Protection Pulled Out, Exceeded Abilities, Colorado, Clear Creek Canyon

FALL ON ROCK, PLACED INADEQUATE PROTECTION, PROTECTION

PULLED OUT, EXCEEDING ABILITIES

Colorado, Clear Creek Canyon

Sept. 13th. It was a beautiful day for climbing. Michelle (24) and I (29) drove out to Clear Creek Canyon to hone our fledgling lead skills. We were both cautious, yet eager climbers with moderate skill, decided to climb Mounty, a 5.7 trad route. The beta we had gotten from mountainproject.com had indicated that the pro was small but solid. Although I wasn’t a very experienced trad leader (I had only lead trad 8 or 9 times before this route), I was a confident 5.7 climber, so I wasn’t very worried about the small pro. We were on a ledge, so I built a belay anchor for Michelle before starting up. After 25 feet of climbing, I had only found placements for three small pieces: two nuts and a #1 (blue) mastercam. I clipped the rope through the carabiner attached directly to the mastercam’s integrated sling. At this point, I found that I had gotten a bit off-route and traversed a bit up and to the left to get back on to the main crack. When I reached the main crack, I was not feeling very good about the amount of pro I had in and I was anxious to get in another piece before climbing higher. I had difficulty finding a placement. I wasn’t comfortable continuing the climb without more pro, so I decided to down-climb. It turns out that being a confident 5.7 climber doesn’t translate into being a confident 5.7 down-climber. While I was traversing down and to the right, back towards the blue cam, I slipped. The cam pulled out, and the two nuts were too low to catch me, so I hit the ground. I sustained an ulna fracture at the elbow and a fifth metacarpal fracture, but I was otherwise fine. Michelle made a sling for my arm, we hiked out, and she drove me to the hospital.

Analysis

Several mistakes were made that led to this accident. The biggest mistake was leading a route that was not well protected as a beginning trad leader. I knew from my research online that the route was not easily protected, but I decided to climb it anyway. My second mistake was that I didn’t turn around earlier when I had trouble in the beginning finding placements. My third mistake was clipping the cam’s integrated sling before changing the direction of the climb, instead of clipping a runner. It’s possible that rope-drag could have caused the cam to walk and the placement to worsen. My fourth and fifth mistakes were overestimating my down-climbing abilities and not practicing down-climbing frequently enough while top-roping. (Source: Sent in with no last name)