AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Fall on Rock, Inadequate Protection, Unable to Communicate with Partner, Colorado, Buena Vista Crags

FALL ON ROCK, INADEQUATE PROTECTION, UNABLE TO COMMUNICATE WITH PARTNER

Colorado, Buena Vista Crags

On September 26, I was approximately 18 feet up a dihedral that was maybe 22 feet tall, about to make the crux move on a route (name unknown, left of Pump Station at Buena Vista crags). I had relatively good gear with my last piece being maybe seven feet below me, when my right foot blew. I immediately lost it and came off. As I fell I saw the rope coiling through the gear, hoping it would hold, as the last piece was a small Mastercam. It held, but only really caught me about a foot above the ledge/slab that the dihedral started out of. I crashed my entire weight onto my right foot, and in an effort to crumple as much as possible, I slid backwards a ways down the slab. I immediately heard/felt the explosion in my ankle and began yelling down to my belayer to prepare to lower me. The impact had blown my shoe off my foot, so I gathered myself and hopped over the pillar that made up the first half of the route and lowered with my broken and severely deformed ankle away form the wall. I got to the ground and crab-crawled a short distance to flat ground while my buddy assessed me.

Surprisingly I wasn’t injured anywhere else. I drank water for a little bit while my belayer searched for help to get me out. Fortunately we were only a hundred yards from my truck so I crab crawled back to it while he was gone searching, just to give myself something to do instead of thinking about the ankle. After an hour and a half drive to Salida, I got into the ER, where I was diagnosed with a fractured talus.

Analysis

I think the accident happened for a few reasons. 1) I had gotten used to running it out and making it on similar terrain. Because of this attitude, I wasn’t fully committed and didn’t place additional gear. 2) I lost both visual and audible contact with my belayer during the climb and without that you can’t properly belay. My guess is there was more slack in the system because of the wandering nature of the route, but also my belayer knows I hate being short roped. So he couldn’t tell, and I couldn’t tell him I was in a bad place to be given too much slack. 3) I should have down climbed and re-assessed the moves instead of going through expecting that, as usual, I would stick when in fact I was on incredibly dense/slick granite. Again I didn’t treat it with the respect it deserved and I got spanked. (Source: Brice Harris from a post on mountainproject.com)