American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock – Rappel Anchor Failure

Alaska, Denali National Park, Mooses Tooth

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year: 2012
  • Publication Year: 2013

On April 20 a party of three Japanese climbers set up a rappel on the route Shaken Not Stirred on the Mooses Tooth. The rappel anchor was a sling around a horn of rock. This anchor failed, resulting in one member of the team, Yudai Sato (24), taking a long fall “head over heels” to the base of the route. His left shoulder was slammed to the ground, but fortunately there was enough fresh snow that there was no serious injury. Suguru Takayanagi (age unknown) was waiting for Sato to complete his descent when he was suddenly dragged off his stance by the climbing rope connecting him and Sato. Takayanagi hit his head on rock as he fell 150 feet to the ground. He suffered a concussion and laceration. He has no memory of the incident, as he lost consciousness when he hit his head.

Two other climbing parties of two each rendered first aid and care for the climber. The rescue that ensued involved two aircraft from the Air National Guard: a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and a Lockheed C-130 Hercules. The patient was flown to Anchorage early in the morning on April 21. (Source: Joe Reichert, Mountaineering Ranger, and excerpts from a report by Yudai Sato.)

Analysis

Mr. Sato reported: I believe this accident was caused by the single rock I wrapped the sling around coming loose. I think I should have used two anchor points.

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