American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Poorly Constructed Anchor, North Carolina, Hanging Rock State Park, Moore's Wall

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

FALL ON ROCK, POORLY CONSTRUCTED ANCHOR

North Carolina, Hanging Rock State Park, Moore's Wall

On May 2, Drew Witt (28) and I, Lee Kennedy (23) were climbing Zoo View (5.7+). I set up the belay by building an anchor on the large boulder located on the Crow’s Nest (Pitch 1, < 80 feet). Before Drew started the second pitch, I decided to make the anchor redundant by slinging a smaller boulder located under the larger primary boulder. Drew started the pitch and climbed about 30 feet, placed a cam (unknown #), climbed an additional ten feet, then fell.

I was yanked directly to the left, which loaded the smaller boulder, dislodging it. It would have fallen, but I had it slung tight enough that it stayed attached, hanging below me! It was heavy enough (maybe a couple of hundred pounds) that it prevented me from moving. Luckily, there was someone else on the Crow’s Nest who helped me pull the boulder to a small ledge where we were able to pull the sling off, then trundled the boulder to the ground.

Analysis

I was inexperienced holding trad falls and was unaware of the forces involved. Most importantly, I should have checked the secondary boulder to make sure it was adequate for an anchor. This can be done in a number of ways. Do a hug test—any boulder you can get your arms around is too small to use as an anchor. Boulders used for anchors should be secured to the surrounding environment and should not move when tested. Rule out any boulder that appears ready to be tipped over the edge. In hindsight, the large boulder would have been an adequate anchor by itself. (Source: Lee Kennedy)

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