American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

'Take' Leads to Two Cams Pulling Out

Colorado, Eldorado Canyon, West Ridge

  • Accident Reports
  • Author: Eldorado Canyon State Park and Drew Hildner of Rocky Mountain Rescue Group
  • Accident Year: 2016
  • Publication Year: 2017

On April 3, a 23-year-old female climber was climbing Sooberb (5.10c). Nearing the crux, a significant overhang split by a hand crack, the climber placed two pieces, one of which was a cam with only two lobes engaged. Fearing she might pump out on the crux above, she decided to rest by hanging from the rope clipped to the higher of the two cams, which looked more solid. That piece pulled out, as did the one below, and the climber fell 20 to 25 feet and sustained an ankle injury. Rocky Mountain Rescue Group performed the difficult technical rescue, which involved 25 people, several lowers, a long scree descent, and a river crossing.

ANALYSIS

Resting by hanging from traditional (removable) protection is not the same as clipping the rope to a quickdraw on a bolt and yelling “take!” When placing your own gear, you must be very sure a piece is solid before weighting it. If the pump clock is ticking, don’t clip a suspect piece with your rope (which adds extra slack if the piece fails), but instead downclimb to a lower placement or stance. If you must rest on a suspect piece, clip into it directly instead of using the rope. This is also a good reminder to place gear frequently before a crux, even if the terrain is relatively easy. (Sources: Eldorado Canyon State Park, Drew Hildner of Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, and the Editors.)

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