American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Highball Bouldering Fall

Utah, Big Cottonwood Canyon

  • Accident Reports
  • Author: Michael Finger
  • Accident Year: 2016
  • Publication Year: 2017

A 30-year-old male had been bouldering with two other friends in an area near Lake Mary. The patient was attempting a hard and high new problem that he had previously top-roped a number of times. He fell from 20 to 30 feet, landed on his bouldering pads at an odd angle, and then rolled down a steep hillside for another 70 feet. The patient had wrist, head, back, and lower leg injuries.


All bouldering falls are ground falls. This climber was trying to get the  first ascent of a hard highball (V–double digits?) that he had rehearsed on top-rope. The weather was cool and crisp, and the friction was good. This individual had many hard first ascents around Bishop, California, and beyond, and he knew the risks. A helmet for highballing might be worth considering? (Source: Michael Finger, Salt Lake County SAR.)

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