American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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Fatal Ground Fall – Slip On Exposed Terrain Above Climb

Oregon, Smith Rock, Picnic Lunch Wall

  • Accident Reports
  • Author: Deschutes County SAR
  • Accident Year: 2018
  • Publication Year: 2019

On April 10, Alex Reed (20) was working on a new route on the Picnic Lunch Wall. He had hiked up Misery Ridge alone to access the top of the route, where the terrain is very exposed and requires some 4th- or 5th-class downclimbing. For unknown reasons, Reed fell an estimated 300 feet while attempting to access the top anchor, sustaining fatal injuries.


Reed was familiar with the terrain and had been there several times in the recent past while preparing the new route. It is believed that this was not a rappel error, but rather a slip in exposed terrain. As climbers it is important to consider the consequences of scrambling unroped or unanchored in exposed spots. The risk in this situation could have been mitigated by establishing an additional anchor above the exposed access point. (Source: Deschutes County SAR.)

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