RAPPEL SLING ANCHOR UNTIED, FALL ON ROCK
Quebec, Mount Cesaire
On July 2, 1992, a group of 15 from the Monteregie Youth Center in Chambly, including four group leaders, plus two instructors from the Quebec Mountaineering Federation (FQM), went out to a cliff on Mount Cesaire for climbing practice. First the instructors set up top ropes on five routes, and both of them checked all the anchors and knots before descending to supervise the climbing, belaying, and lowering. The youngsters climbed these routes all morning and into the early afternoon, and four of them had climbed the route “Unnamed” and been lowered safely to the bottom by 1300. Then Patrick L. took his turn, and after reaching the top, was being lowered on a pulley by a supervised belayer at the bottom when he fell some 18 meters to the ground, sustaining fractures of the right wrist, upper arm, collarbone, and shoulder.
After the leaders and instructors determined that Patrick was conscious, one instructor, Yves B., went for help. He called Dominique F., who contacted the Quebec Police and the Ambulance Service before going to meet him with a rescue stretcher. She then accompanied the police to the scene of the accident while Yves waited for the ambulance. Ten minutes later, it arrived and he and the paramedics followed. They administered first aid and immobilized the victim for transport to the ambulance.
Seeing everything was in hand, the instructors went to the top of the pitch to find out what had gone wrong. They found the knot in the anchor sling had come untied. The knot had apparently slipped loose, unlikely as that seemed, seeing as it had been well tied. That was the only possible explanation, since all the other equipment was intact.
While the other instructor, Thierry B., stayed at the cliff to supervise the rest of the group and review the accident as much as possible, the victim was evacuated, and a group leader and Yves accompanied him to the hospital, where Patrick was kept overnight for observation. (Source: Denis Gravel, Quebec Mountaineering Federation)
This accident reinforces the importance of backing knots up and of checking anchor setups periodically, especially when they are out of sight. It is also a common practice to use two or three anchor points for rappels. (Source: Orvel Miskiw)