American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Ledge Fall – Inadequate Protection

California, Yosemite Valley, Church Bowl

  • Accident Reports
  • Author: Yosemite National Park Climbing Rangers
  • Accident Year: 2016
  • Publication Year: 2017

On April 16, at about 3 p.m., Yosemite Dispatch received a report of a climber who had taken a lead fall and was bleeding severely at Church Bowl. The climber (male, age 24) had pulled multiple pieces of protection from the Bishop’s Terrace route (5.8) and landed on a ledge 20 feet above the ground. An advanced life support provider arrived on scene, meeting an off-duty ranger who happened to be climbing in the area. The climber’s partner stated that the fall had been approximately 25 feet and that the climber had hit his head during the fall. He lost consciousness for approximately three minutes. He was wearing a helmet. The two care providers climbed to the patient, assessed his injuries, and moved the patient to the base of the climb. A Yosemite Valley ambulance then took the patient to El Cap Meadow and transferred care to Mercy Air Ambulance.

ANALYSIS

When climbing above a ledge or in low-angle terrain, it is particularly important to place gear early and often. Don’t just think about the piece right below you—consider the consequences if that piece fails. Would the next piece keep you off the ledge below? (Source: Yosemite National Park Climbing Rangers.) 

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