American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Protection Pulled Out, Placed Inadequate Protection, No Hard Hat, Washington, Peshastin Pinnacles, Lightning Crack

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1993


Washington, Peshastin Pinnacles, Lightning Crack

On May 31, 1992, Bob Renz (40) was climbing Lightning Crack. He placed protection at the beginning of the climb and then didn’t place protection when the crack was not as steep and difficult to climb. When he reached the crux of the climb, approximately 70 feet off the ground, he placed a cam and stopper, and then fell just above these two pieces of protection. Neither piece held his fall and were ripped right out of the sandstone. He fell all the way to the ground, smashing into the rock several times as he fell, and then sliding the remaining distance to the ground. He sustained severe head injuries, broken leg and smashed knee cap— all as he bounced against rock as he fell.


Wear a helmet at all times—top rope climbing, belaying, leading or just hanging out at base of rock when there is potential of rock fall. Even at “sport climbing” area such as Peshastin Pinnacles.

Be aware of the type of rock you are placing protection in. Sometimes even the best

placed protection will not hold a fall in sandstone.

Watch spacing of protection in relation to grounding out if leader falls, or if piece of protection fails, whether or not another piece of protection will be able to prevent the climber from falling to the ground. (Source: Lesa Duncan)

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