American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Reported Mountaineering Accidents, Table III

  • Accident Tables
  • Accident Year: 2011
  • Publication Year: 2012

FALL ON ROCK, RAPPEL ERROR - FAILED TO CLIP INTO ANCHOR California, Joshua Tree National Park, Saddle Rock

On April 18, Dave Pinegar had lowered his partner from the route Walk on the Wild Side to the next anchor with his belay device. The partner clipped in to the anchor and yelled, “Off rappel.” The next thing the partner knew was that Dave was flying by him. Dave was found at the bottom with the rope attached to his harness with a figure-eight on a bight tied at the mid-point of the rope.

Analysis

Dave Pinegar was an experienced climber from Germany. There are a couple of points here that should be clear. First, he obviously wasn’t clipped into the anchor, and second, Walk On The Wild Side is usually a double-rope rappel with either 50 or 60-meter ropes.

A single 70-meter is pretty short for this task. Locals seem to concur that the 70-meter, single-rope rap is pushing it.

One news article said he was on a motorcycle trip, so maybe he just didn’t bring his own gear. (Source: From a post on rockclimbing.com by Majid Sabetzadeh and an article in High Desert Star)

(Editor’s Note: There were three other reports from J Tree. One was a fall on rock—no details, and the other two were rappel errors: one climber went off the end of the rope and the other climber fell because the ropes were uneven.)

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