American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Stranded, Climbing Alone, Free Solo Climbing, Off Route, Inadequate Equipment, Colorado, First Flatiron

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

STRANDED, CLIMBING ALONE, FREE SOLO CLIMBING, OFF ROUTE, INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT

Colorado, First Flatiron

Late in the afternoon on December 10 Xavier Rojas (20) became stranded while free soloing the Direct (Standard) East Face (5.6), a six- pitch route on the First Flatiron. According to authorities, Rojas was about 500 feet up the face when the temperature started falling and the rock iced up. In order to avoid the ice, Rojas went off route until he reached a spot where he could not continue. He was wearing a sweatshirt and climbing pants, and he had a headlamp. He used his cellphone to call 911 and communicate with rescuers, who arrived at the Flatiron by 6:25 p.m. and were able to call to Rojas. He was cold, but not injured.

To reach Rojas, rescuers used ice-climbing gear to get to a point about 180 feet above him, reaching him at 7:50 p.m. They provided him with extra clothing, then hauled Rojas up the 180 feet to the rescue point. A short rappel brought Rojas to the ground. He and his rescuers hiked out to the trailhead by 9:00 p.m. (Source: The Denverchannel.com)

Analysis

When soloing long routes, consideration should always be given to one’s skill level, time of day, weather and rock conditions, and clothing and equipment needs before leaving the ground. Cell phone and proximity to rescue helped in this case. (Source: Aram Attarian)

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