• 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
    Babsi Zangerl and Jacopo Larcher Send Zodiac (VI 5.13d) on El Cap
    Babsi Zangerl and Jacopo Larcher Send Zodiac (VI 5.13d) on El Cap
    Whipper of the Month
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer

    Rappel Swing Goes Awry, Climber Injured and Rescued


    After a late start because of threatening weather, James Reed, Blue Eisele and Eric Moore climbed 50 feet of fourth-class terrain to the first pitch of the Moonlight Buttress in Zion National Park. Moore led the pitch (5.8) and then belayed Eisele, who cleaned it. To save time, Reed clamped on his ascenders and began to jug a fixed line. As Reed dangled from his daisy chain, Moore called down. In the rush to get on the wall, he’d forgotten his own aiders and ascenders.

    Reed faced a choice: shuck his load of water, food, gear and rope, unhook from the fixed line and scramble back down to the ground; or rappel to the base, grab the equipment, and jug up to the first belay anchor. Neither option was particularly appealing, but he decided to rappel.

    The first pitch begins left of the main line and traverses right to the first anchor, where the route follows the buttress directly to the top. Looking toward the anchor, Reed assessed the rappel. Thinking he was about 10 feet left of the fall line, he figured he could kick off the ledge and swing over for a plumb descent. He hooked up his Grigri. As he weighted the rope and moved right, he lost his footing and arced toward the route’s jutting buttress, swinging about 20 feet and smashing his hip on a horn of rock. Immediately, he knew he’d been hurt badly. 

    Reed lowered himself back to the ledge but was in too much pain to continue the rappel. Moore rapped down to help, while Eisele configured the anchor to lower Reed to the ground. Moore rigged a chest harness to take weight off Reed’s hip, but he still couldn’t be lowered—when he moved, Reed felt bones grating.

    A party above the trio had a portaledge, but was unwilling to lend it as a litter, so Moore rappelled to the ground to run for help. However, two other climbers stopped and gave up their day to assist Reed. 

    After at least two hours, Reed said, Zion SAR showed up with a litter and morphine, and evacuated Reed. The rescue took more than seven hours.


    SEVERAL THINGS WENT wrong that day. The friends were rushing because they were running short on time, and left crucial gear at the base.

    Frustrated, Reed also rushed through his assessment of the rappel. He didn’t notice the dished-out section on the wall where he lost his footing, or accurately gauge the pendulum. In retrospect, he says, he should have jugged up and over before beginning the rappel. Fortunately, he was using an auto-locking device and was able to hold the rappel.

    Additionally, the other party’s refusal to give up their portaledge to use as a stretcher was appalling. “If we had a litter, we could’ve been on the ground in 10 minutes. We could’ve done a rough-ground carry and been on the road in 45 minutes or less,” Reed says. Instead, he waited in pain for hours.


    This accident could have been avoided with a simple gear check at the base of the climb. Don’t rush your buddies when out climbing. If time is short, abort. 

    Remember, too, that an inordinate number of climbing accidents occur on the descent. Rappels are dangerous, and it’s important to slow down and assess the situation every tme. Are you rigged correctly? Is the rope touching the ground? Is it running over loose rock? Will you swing when you cut free from the stance or belay? In this case, some pieces of directional protection would have negated the swing.

    Finally, the rescue could have been expedited if the party above had been more compassionate. We are a community: If you’re on a wall and you notice another party has sustained an injury, do what you can to help. If you have gear they need—lend it.



    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