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Stranded, Off Route, Party Separated, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak, The Diamond

STRANDED, OFF ROUTE, PARTY SEPARATED

Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak, The Diamond

On July 20, Carloyn Davis (27) became stranded while rappelling down The Diamond (East Face). She and her partner had climbed the Casual Route (grade IV, 5.10) and reached Table Ledge where the Diamond rappels begin at about 11:00 a.m. At the bottom of the second rappel, she missed the correct anchors and rappelled past them. She found some other fixed gear to clip into. She was about 50 feet to the climber’s right of the correct anchors and a little bit below them. Her partner rappelled to the correct anchors and after talking to each other about what to do, they decided to have him pull the ropes and try to swing over to her. Once they pulled the ropes, they could not swing the ropes over to her location and her partner did not have any of the climbing gear. She had the rack and most of their extra clothes. For two hours, they tried unsuccessfully to get the ropes to her. Her climbing partner rappelled the rest of the way down and went for help. He located RMNP trail crew on Longs Peak who notified the Park.

A team of four Rangers was flown to the summit of Longs Peak just before dark. They down climbed Kiener’s Route to Table ledge and lowered a Ranger to the stranded climber. She was able to ascend the rope back to Table Ledge. From there one of the Rangers escorted her to the summit. They arrived at the summit at 2:15 a.m. The climber and the Rangers bivied on the summit until 7:00 a.m. Between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., the Rangers collected all the gear and a helicopter flew all the personnel, the climber, and their gear off the mountain.

Analysis

These climbers had years of alpine and big-wall experience and Ms. Davis had done this route the previous year. They started early, climbed efficiently, had the proper equipment, and they were on their way back down with time to spare. Once they became separated and got off of the standard rappel route, they discussed a plan that would get them back on the route together. Unfortunately this plan did not succeed.

More than likely, fatigue (these climbers had been walking/climbing since 1:30 a.m.) played a large role in helping to convince them that their plan could work. It certainly must have seemed easier than the other options of having her ascend the rope or building their own anchors and leaving gear behind to get back to Broadway. Fortunately, the stranded climber had rain gear and extra clothes and could endure the several rainstorms that occurred that afternoon while she waited for a rescue team to arrive. (Source: Rich Browne, Emergency Services Coordinator, Rocky Mountain National Park)