American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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Fall on Rock, Slack Rope, Arkansas, Horseshoe Canyon Ranch

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2011


Arkansas, Horseshoe Canyon Ranch

My wife Kylie and I (age unknown) were climbing at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch near Jasper on December 22.1 was going to lead Frankenberry (5.9+), a six-bolt route approximately 60 feet in length. The crux was just under the third bolt with a small technical roof. I made it to the third bolt located at the top of the roof. In order to clip the third bolt I had to climb above it, reach down, and make the clip.

Out of habit I said, “clipping,” before making the clip. Kylie reacted by giving me slack, but this time being above the bolt I didn’t need any more slack since I had more slack than I needed from the second to the third bolt, and slack about two feet above the third bolt, and the slack my belayer just gave me to clip in with.

On my way to make the clip with my left hand, my right hand slipped and I fell. At the bottom of the route was a four feet wide by two feet high rectangular shaped boulder. About two feet above the boulder, Kylie started to catch me, but due to the slack, it was too late. Mid-way through the stretch of the rope, I hit the boulder heels first and then the rope snapped tight. With Kylie in the air, I began screaming for help. Luckily, three climbers came to our rescue and helped Kylie down. My first thought was that I had broken my back, but after lying there for about ten minutes, I realized my heels hurt more than anything. We were able to walk out and drive to the hospital. The damage: I broke the top-outside of my right foot, my left ankle, and cracked my left heel. I also bruised the bottoms of both my feet and my back.


Be aware of how much slack you have out. It’s both the climber and belayer’s responsibility to monitor this. Anchoring the belayer may have also helped prevent this misadventure, especially when there’s a big difference in weight. (Source: Edited from a post on

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