• Earthquake, Avalanche, 18 Dead on Everest, Over 1,400 in Nepal
  • Accident Report: Tragedy on Infinite Bliss - Rappelling Claims Climber
  • The Unthinkable
  • Impaled by a Quickdraw
  • Double Trouble: Two Carabiners Break
  • Accident Report: Climber Fined For Obstructing Rescue
  • Climber Triggered Rockfall: Kills Two on El Cap
  • Gear Pulls: Grounder at White Rock, New Mexico
  • Off Route
  • BUNGLED!: Autoblock Belay Device Misused
  • NPS Chops Bolts: Man Dies Descending Forbidden Peak
  • Not Again: Eldo Climber Raps Off End Of Rope
  • Trust Your Gut: Bone Breaker at Point Perpendicular
  • Solo 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
  • Take Down: Climber Falls 70 Feet
  • Ropes Don't Break-They Cut: Tragedy on the Yellow Spur
  • Belayer Pulls Leader Off Ice Climb
  • Fifty-Footer Rips Three Screws
  • Rope Chopped by Carabiner
  • Climber Falls 140 Feet and Lives
  • Tragedy on Leaning Tower
  • Climbing Accident on Mount Hood
  • Climbing's Insidious Danger: Rockfall
  • Directional Selection
  • Reepschnur Review
  • A Freak Ice Accident
  • Fatal Misunderstanding
  • Counterweight
  • Less Isn't Always More
  • Mouse Attacks
  • Experience Doesn't Matter
  • Chopping Block
  • One Slip
  • Climber Comes Unclipped, Falls 140 Feet at Red Rocks
  • Ice climber rides Vail's famous Fang 100 feet when the pillar collapses
  • Corrosion
  • Not the Knot
  • Icy Groundfall
  • Hooked
  • Under Arrest
  • Over Stoked
  • If You're Gonna Be Foolhardy, You Better Be Tough
  • Clocked
  • Confusion and Contusion
  • Middle Muddle
  • Pride and Prudence
  • Century Fall
    Video Spotlight
    Climb Like Sharma. Part 2, Limits and Fears
    Climb Like Sharma. Part 2, Limits and Fears

    Climber Falls 140 Feet and Lives


    On October 16, a 29-year-old climber from the Bay area arrived at the second anchors of the two-pitch sport climb Members Only (5.10d) at Owens River Gorge and prepared to descend.

    While the first pitch is a popular five-star 5.10d, the second pitch is a run-out 5.9 and not often done. Combined, the two pitches of Members Only are more than 50 meters, making it possible to link them as one pitch but impossible to lower from the second set of anchors, even with a 70-meter rope.

    Though as of press time the climber was not ready to answer questions, it is reasonable to assume that while clipped in direct, she untied her rope and fed it through the anchors. The belayer (who requested anonymity) unclipped and removed his device.

    The climber retied, unclipped her direct attachment to the anchors, leaned back and fell to the ground.

    Olivia Nguyen, Holly Hansen and Patrick O'Donnell were climbing at the nearby Mothership Wall when a noise caught their attention.

    I heard this whack, glanced over and witnessed the free fall, says Nguyen. Then something happened to her rope and flipped her, slowing her down.

    Hansen, who helped check the injured climber's vitals, says that the climber and her belayer had never climbed together outside prior to that day. The climber suffered a broken pelvis and fractured vertebrae among various other, less serious injuries. She is back in the Bay area, has undergone four surgeries and remains hospitalized, receiving rehab to regain function in her left leg.



    Witnesses noted that the climber set up intending to be lowered, while her belayer thought she was going to rappel.

    A river [makes communication difficult]. It would be hard to know if she yelled or he didn't hear, says Hansen.

    The climber fell 40 feet before her rope kinked and caught at the anchor. The kink jerked through the chains but the snag slowed her down before she fell another 100 feet to the ground.



    Roughly 5 percent of the recorded accidents in 2009 were related to rappelling, according to Accidents in North American Mountaineering. Here are two surefire ways to prevent becoming a statistic.

    1 Communicate

    Discuss your plans with your belayer before you leave the ground. Will you lower? Rappel? Is the rope long enough to reach the ground? Tie a knot in the end of the belayer's rope if you're planning on lowering. If you are rappelling, most manufacturers recommend a backup, like a prussik. In any case, before climbing ensure a safe lowering scenario by discussing your plans and trouble-shooting possible outcomes with your belayer.

    2 Test the System

    Prior to unclipping, inspect your knot and see that the rope is properly threaded through the anchor, then check with your belayer and make sure he is holding your weight. If rappelling, inspect your rigging, then take up slack and test the system by weighting it before you unclip.Almost all rappelling/lowering accidents can be prevented by following these two steps, but a single lapse in protocol could result in a tragic accident. Remember, you have to go through the process every time.

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