American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Climbing Alone, Darkness, Colorado, El Diente Peak

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2012

FALL ON ROCK, CLIMBING ALONE,

DARKNESS Colorado, El Diente Peak

Joe Yearm (28) was descending El Diente Peak (14,159 feet) in the San Juan National Forest alone after dark on Saturday July 16 when he fell 20 feet into a snowfield and fractured his leg. Yearm spent the night in the snow until he began crawling Sunday morning. Two other climbers in the area discovered him, one of whom activated a personal locator beacon, alerting authorities to the GPS position. (Officials noted there is no cell phone coverage in the area.) The climbers administered first aid, using hiking poles and duct tape to splint the Yearm’s leg.

A construction company working in the area suspended operations and provided a helicopter to help search. According to the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office, the pilot made a “toe-in landing” on a “very steep slope,” allowing rescue workers to reach the group, about a half-mile southwest of El Diente’s summit. Rescuers said storm clouds were descending on the area and the weather was close to halting flight operations. Yearm was airlifted to the Telluride Airport and taken by ambulance to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Colo. He was treated for a lower-leg fracture. (Source: axcentral.com)

Analysis

Solo climbing and mountaineering requires that the climber be prepared and have the ability to make the right decisions. Even the most experienced climbers can have an accident and be unable to extricate themselves from vertical terrain. The risk is increased if the injury occurs in difficult terrain and in deteriorating conditions. Climbers attempting any peak should leave an itinerary with someone who will monitor it; have the right equipment, clothing, and food in case they need to spend the night out; and have a reliable device to signal for help. (Source: Aram Attarian)

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