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Fall on Rock, Protection Pulled Out, Exceeding Abilities, New York, Mohonk Preserve, Shawangunks

FALL ON ROCK, PROTECTION PULLED OUT, EXCEEDING ABILITIES

New York, Mohonk Preserve, Shawangunks

On the morning of October 17, I (Lisa Wang, 23) was leading the route Frogs Head. It was my second day of leading at the ‘Gunks.

At the bulge above the first crux, I first placed one small Metolius 1 and slung it with a long quickdraw. Next, I placed a gold nut about three to four feet up and put that on another quickdraw; however, I didn’t like this placement very much and so placed a red nut about a foot immediately above the previous nut. This red nut was slotted into a v-shaped crevice, again slung with a quickdraw. At this point, I am approximately 40 feet up, possibly a little higher. When I was preparing to go up for the next set of holds, I smeared with my right foot because I couldn’t reach the next horizontal crack otherwise; however, my left hand came off the rock and I fell off the bulge. Both nuts pulled, one by one, and then force of the fall also pulled the Metolius 1 cam. My partner told me he felt each piece hold for a second and then pop. He also felt the brown Tri-cam catch and take up most of the force of the fall. I hit the ground as a result of rope stretch and bounced twice. I sprained my left ankle, scraped up my left leg, and hurt my wrist. It turns out I broke a bone in my wrist, but the break was on a fairly minor bone, so I actually kept climbing that weekend.

Analysis

While I am relatively new to climbing, I can comfortably lead 5.9 sport routes and can climb 5.10 routes, so it was reasonable to expect that Frogs Head, a 5.6, would go smoothly. My second, who is also my mentor, has as many years of experience as I’ve been alive and is a very competent and skilled teacher and climber. My rack had a full set of nuts, Black Diamond C4 cams from .3-3, a Metolius 1, a set of Tri-cams, and about seven extendable two-foot slings and five long 16-cm quickdraws.

I found Frogs Head to be a bit more difficult than expected, partly because I am 5’1”, so the holds were actually not within my grasp if I used the usual footholds. I believe that I fell back at the bulge and the horizontal force I exerted on my nut pulled it up and out. I also believe my Metolius 1 was under-cammed. When deciding whether to use slings or quickdraws, I decided that draws were sufficient because the route went pretty much straight up and thus there wouldn’t be an horizontal rope drag. However, I failed to consider the force that a draw would exert on a nut in the event of the fall and how the bulge of the rock would affect the rope and how it tugged on the pieces. I also failed to realize how small the range is for a small cam as the Metolius 1. As a result of these mistakes, I believe they are what caused my pieces to pull.

I learned three very valuable lessons. In the future, I will always use slings with my nuts and extend them if there is any bulge in the rock or if I am close the ground. I will also remember how small the range is on the small cams and be sure not to under-cam them. I will also really set my nuts when placing them and make sure they are sitting securely in the cracks. (Source: Edited from a report submitted by Lisa Wang)

(Editor’s Note: We always appreciate it when climbers submit their own reports and self-analysis.)