American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Anchor Failure — Unfinished Knot, Virginia, Blue Ridge Parkway, Ravens Roost

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

FALL ON ROCK, ANCHOR FAILURE – UNFINISHED KNOT

Virginia, Blue Ridge Parkway, Ravens Roost,

During the mid-afternoon on June 15, Jonathan Sullivan (20) fell approximately 100 feet to his death at Ravens Roost Overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

He and two partners had been top-rope climbing since 11:30 a.m. The group was top-roping. Sullivan made it about 100 feet when he paused to rest before the fall. Each had taken falls throughout the day and the top-rope system had functioned properly.

Analysis

According to reports, it was Sullivan’s first day climbing outdoors. Investigators said the probable cause of the fall was the failure of a knot securing the one-inch tubular webbing anchor sling. The single sling anchor (non-redundant) extended from a large tree to the cliff edge. Evidence suggested that the person constructing the top rope anchor placed a “temporary” knot or hitch in the webbing to hold it in place but became distracted and never finished tying the knot to complete the anchor. Amazingly, others climbed and were lowered on the route without incident throughout the day. This incident illustrates the importance of a redundant anchor system and the need to check the anchor prior to climbing. (Source: Tony Gonzalez – on www2.wsls. com/news and Kurt Speers – Blue Ridge Parkway)

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