American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Rockfall

Arizona, Kaibab National Forest, Sycamore Falls

  • Accident Reports
  • Author: Aaron Dick
  • Accident Year: 2015
  • Publication Year: 2016

On June 25, a Boy Scout group was climbing and rappelling at Sycamore Falls (a.k.a. Paradise Forks). At approximately 11:30 in the morning, the first rappeller (age 56) was struck in the left knee and foot by a falling rock when he was approximately 20 feet above the canyon floor. He was able to safely lower himself to the bottom of the canyon. When search and rescue personnel arrived, they raised him about 100 feet to the rim of the canyon; he was then transferred to an ambulance. Lacerations in his knee and foot both required stitches.

Analysis

It is difficult to say how this accident might have been prevented. The edge of the canyon appeared to be clean and free of loose rocks, and it is unknown where the falling rock came from or how it was dislodged. The rappeller was using appropriate and adequate safety equipment, including a figure 8 descender, helmet, and a top belay. (Source: Aaron Dick, SAR Coordinator, Coconino County Sheriff’s Office.)

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