• Forty-Foot Fall and Rescue on Eldorado Canyon's Bastille
  • Missed Clip, Fractured Skull
  • Errant Spot and a Shattered Leg in Bishop Highball Accident
  • Climber Killed in Simul-Rappelling Accident on the Goat Wall
  • Climber Dies in Fall From El Cap's East Ledges
  • Fatal Unroped Fall On Easy Terrain - Bear Creek Spire, California
  • Simul-Rappel Goes Tragically Wrong - Reed’s Pinnacle, Yosemite
  • Dropped Haulbag Strikes Climber in Yosemite
  • Rappel Knot Fails, Climber Falls to Death on the Goat Wall
  • Climber Loses Finger Tips in Crack
  • Climber Grabs Draw, Skins Finger
  • Gear Pulls, Climber Decks at Indian Creek
  • Climber Dropped at Instructional Clinic
  • Euro-Death Knot (Flat Figure-8) Mysteriously Fails
  • Mark Davis Dies in Tragic Rappelling Accident at Indian Creek
  • Climber Dies In Fall From Moonlight Buttress, Zion
  • Ice Climber Falls 100 Feet in Banff National Park
  • Ice Climber Falls 100 Feet on Screw and Climaxe
  • Diablo Canyon Climber Dies in 170-foot Fall
  • Climber Breaks Ankle and Back After Fall in the Palisades, California
  • Rockfall Knocks Out Belayer, She Never Lets Go
  • North Carolina Climber Dies in 50-foot Fall
  • Lightning Strikes Twice - Rockfall on the Cassin, Cima Piccolissima
  • Climber Dropped When Lowered in Autoblock Mode
  • Climber Dies in a Fall at Dishman Hills, Washington
  • Climber Falls 200 Feet on the Nose
  • Danger Zones: The Nose - Accidents On El Cap's Most Popular Route
  • Rappelling Accident Leaves Climber Shattered
  • Gunks Climber Raps Off End of Rope
  • Inattentive Spot Leads to Broken Arm
  • Man Survives Fifty-Foot Ground Fall
  • Bolt Breaks, Climber Falls to Death
  • Climber Falls to Death, Apparent Bolt Failure
  • Tragedy on Infinite Bliss - Rappelling Claims Climber
  • Gear Rips, Leading Climber Critical
  • Impaled by a Quickdraw
  • Two Carabiners Break on Leaning Tower
  • Climber Fined For Obstructing Rescue
  • Climber Triggers Rockfall, Kills Two on El Cap
  • Gear Pulls: Grounder at White Rock, New Mexico
  • Death on Capitol Peak
  • Respected Climber Falls 50 Feet and Dies at Cathedral Ledge
  • NPS Chops Bolts: Man Dies Descending Forbidden Peak
  • Not Again: Eldo Climber Raps Off End Of Rope
  • Flake Breaks, Leader Falls, Hits Belayer
  • BUNGLED!: Autoblock Belay Device Misused
  • Fatal Gym Accident
  • Solo Ice Climber Dies in Fall
  • Three Killed in Cairngorms
  • Ice Climber Killed
  • Despite Warnings, Three Injured in Mount Washington Avalanche
  • Four Dead in Scottish Highlands
  • Bolt Pulls Out in the New River Gorge
  • Belayer Drops Climber 70 Feet to Ground
  • Rope Cuts, Climber Dies in Eldorado
  • Belayer Pulls Leader Off Ice Climb
  • Fifty-Footer Rips Three Screws
  • Rope Chopped by Carabiner
  • Climber Falls 140 Feet and Lives
  • Todd Skinner Killed on Leaning Tower Rappel
  • Climbing's Insidious Danger: Rockfall
  • Top Rope Slips Off
  • Rappel Knot Fails, Climber Falls 300 Feet to Death
  • Ice Cave Collapses, Kills Hari Berger
  • Climber Unclips From Anchor, Falls to Death
  • Counterweight Rappel Failure
  • Back Cleaning Results in 150-foot Fall
  • Climber Dies When Rappels Off End of Rope
  • Mouse Attacks
  • Hold Breaks, 60-foot Fall
  • Avalanche Kills Six In Alps
  • Autoblock Belay Failure Causes Fall
  • Lathrop Strang Killed in Mount Sopris Ski Accident
  • Rappel Swing Goes Awry, Climber Injured and Rescued
  • Ice Climber Falls Entire Pitch, Dies
  • Climber Comes Unclipped, Falls 140 Feet at Red Rocks
  • Ice climber rides Vail's famous Fang 100 feet when the pillar collapses
  • Two Bolt Hangers Break, Climber Falls
  • Nose-hooked Carabiner Breaks, Causing Ground Fall
  • Bowline Comes Untied, Climber Falls to Ground
  • Rope Burns Through Lowering Sling, Climber Falls to Ground
  • Gear Rips, Leader Hits Ledge
  • 600-foot Ice Climbing Fall
  • Ice Climber Unropes, Slips, Falls 60 Feet
  • Ice Climber Dislodges Ice, Belayer Hit and Seriously Injured
  • Belayer Drops Leader Due to Miscommunication
  • Leader Rips 10 Pieces on El Cap, Falls 80 Feet
  • Leader Falls, Gear Rips, Belay Fails
  • Video Spotlight
    First Repeat of Jeff Lowe's Metanoia on the Eiger North Face
    First Repeat of Jeff Lowe's Metanoia on the Eiger North Face
    Whipper of the Month
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer

    Climber Dropped at Instructional Clinic


    John Frieh and Megan Erspamer climb <em>High on Boulder</em> (WI 4), Cody, Wyoming. <em>Moonrise</em> (WI 5), the scene of the accident, is the flow to the right. Photo: Aaron Mulkey.At approximately 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, February 14, Gary Weber arrived at a V-thread anchor atop the second pitch of Moonrise (WI 5) near Cody, Wyoming. Weber, age 56, an experienced ice climber from Phoenix, Arizona, who was participating in a one-on-one clinic at the 18th Annual Cody Ice Climbing Festival, didn’t like the looks of the thread, so he passed it up, climbed to a higher stance and placed two screws. Weber clipped the screws, and his instructor, a climber from Bozeman, Montana, lowered Weber to a point just above the ledge at the top of the first pitch. Then the end of the rope slipped through the guide’s belay device.

    Weber impacted the sloping ledge and slipped off it, sliding about 30 feet toward a vertical drop described as between 60 and 100 feet.

    “I remember somewhere there [I] was falling, and then I felt my ankle twist a little bit,” Weber said in an interview with the Cody Enterprise. “I was scraping with the tool, and it wasn’t grabbing anything. Then I started sliding again, and scraping wasn’t working. Finally I was able to whack it, and it stopped me.”

    Weber was joined by climbers who were on the nearby route High on Boulder, who helped him hike the three miles to the road. He underwent surgery on his broken ankle and is expected to recover fully.


    The Cody Ice Climbing Festival does not use certified guides to conduct clinics. Rather, as Don Foote, the festival chairman put it, an instructor/guide who teaches the clinics can possibly be “a gear rep, athlete, local or frequent climber familiar with the particular waterfall, [who] has the knowledge, skills and ability to help others enjoy the day ice climbing.” Participants pay around $100 per clinic, and the instructors receive around $250 per day, according to Foote.

    In cases like this it is tempting to place the blame entirely on the “guide.” He was, after all, a paid instructor and should have taken precautions to prevent the rope end from slipping through the belay device, especially on a two-pitch route. Yet Weber never publicly mentioned negligence.

    In a follow-up interview with the Cody Enterprise, he shared responsibility, commenting, “I know the things we’re supposed to do to prevent this from happening. I’ve done them hundreds of times. But this time I didn’t do them.”


    This accident would have been prevented if the belayer had been tied to the end of the rope, which he should have been on a multi-pitch route. Even if the belay ledge were sufficient to let the climbers safely walk around, the belayer’s end of the rope should have been knotted.

    Weber was willing to take responsibility for the accident, yet he had entered what was probably an unusual situation for him, climbing as a guided client. In these situations it is easy to surrender responsibility for your safety to someone else.

    Even so, never leave the ground without doing a “buddy check.” Confirm that your knot is tied correctly, but also check out your belay. Is it rigged right? Is your belayer alert and ready? Are you going to rappel or lower?

    If rappelling, always tie knots in the ends of your rope. If lowering, confirm that there’s a knot in the free end. Always follow every part of this pre-climb safety check.


    This article was published in Rock and Ice issue 235 (July 2016).



    Reader's Commentary:

    Don't want to use Facebook, but still want to comment? We have you covered:

    Add Your Comments to this article:

    About Rock and IceAdvertiseIntern at Rock and IceSubscription ServicesSite MapTerms of UsePrivacy PolicyContact Us
    Copyright © Bigstone Publishing 2017