• Climbing Accident: Earthquake, Avalanche, 21 Dead on Everest, Over 4,600 in Nepal
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Climber Falls to Death, Apparent Bolt Failure
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Tragedy on Infinite Bliss - Rappelling Claims Climber
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Gear Rips, Leading Climber Critical
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Impaled by a Quickdraw
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Two Carabiners Break on Leaning Tower
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Climber Fined For Obstructing Rescue
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Climber Triggered Rockfall: Kills Two on El Cap
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Gear Pulls: Grounder at White Rock, New Mexico
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Death on Capitol Peak
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Respected Climber Falls 50 Feet and Dies at Cathedral Ledge
  • Rock Climbing Accident: NPS Chops Bolts: Man Dies Descending Forbidden Peak
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Not Again: Eldo Climber Raps Off End Of Rope
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Flake Breaks, Leader Falls, Hits Belayer
  • Rock Climbing Accident: BUNGLED!: Autoblock Belay Device Misused
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Fatal Gym Accident
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Solo Climber Dies in Fall
  • Climbing Accident: Three Killed in Cairngorms
  • Climbing Accident: Ice Climber Killed
  • Climbing Accident: Despite Warnings, Three Injured in Mount Washington Avalanche
  • Climbing Accident: Four Dead in Scottish Highlands
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Bolt Pulls Out in the New River Gorge
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Belayer Drops Climber 70 Feet to Ground
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Rope Cuts, Climber Dies in Eldorado
  • Climbing Accident: Belayer Pulls Leader Off Ice Climb
  • Climbing Accident: Fifty-Footer Rips Three Screws
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Rope Chopped by Carabiner
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Climber Falls 140 Feet and Lives
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Todd Skinner Killed on Leaning Tower Rappel
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Climbing's Insidious Danger: Rockfall
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Top Rope Slips Off
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Rappel Knot Fails, Climber Falls 300 Feet to Death
  • Climbing Accident: Ice Cave Collapses, Kills Hari Berger
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Climber Unclips From Anchor, Falls to Death
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Counterweight Rappel Failure
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Back Cleaning Results in 150-foot Fall
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Climber Dies When Rappels Off End of Rope
  • Mouse Attacks
  • Climbing Accident: Hold Breaks, 60-foot Fall
  • Climbing Accident: Avalanche Kills Six In Alps
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Autoblock Belay Failure Causes Fall
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Rappel Swing Goes Awry, Climber Injured and Rescued
  • Climbing Accident: Ice Climber Falls Entire Pitch, Dies
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Climber Comes Unclipped, Falls 140 Feet at Red Rocks
  • Climbing Accident: Ice climber rides Vail's famous Fang 100 feet when the pillar collapses
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Two Bolt Hangers Break, Climber Falls
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Nose-hooked Carabiner Breaks, Causing Ground Fall
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Bowline Comes Untied, Climber Falls to Ground
  • Climbing Accident: Rope Burns Through Lowering Sling, Climber Falls to Ground
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Gear Rips, Leader Hits Ledge
  • Climbing Accident: 600-foot Ice Climbing Fall
  • Climbing Accident: Ice Climber Unropes, Slips, Falls 60 Feet
  • Climbing Accident: Ice Climber Dislodges Ice, Belayer Hit and Seriously Injured
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Belayer Drops Leader Due to Miscommunication
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Climber Rappels Off Rope, Dies
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Leader Rips 10 Pieces on El Cap, Falls 80 Feet
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Leader Falls, Gear Rips, Belay Fails
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Flake Breaks, Leader Falls, Hits Belayer

    07-Jul-2014
    By

    Point Perpendicular presents climbers with a challenging top-down scenario. Photo by Simon Carter.It was late in the afternoon on February 23 when the American climber Joe Cleinmark and his partner Alessio Miori, an Italian, rappelled from the top of Point Perpendicular, a seaside crag in eastern Australia. Their sights were set on Jaws of Death (5.10c/d), a climb that begins 100 feet below the cliff top and 150 feet above the crashing waves.

    While rappelling the fixed line to the small belay ledge, Cleinmark recalls in an e-mail that he “grimaced” at the choss that marked the initial 30 feet of the climb. Nevertheless, he tied in and began leading through the “slightly solidified sand.” When he was about 10 feet off the ledge, Cleinmark pulled off a big flake and fell. He wound up “uncomfortably scrunched” on Miori’s lap. 

    “Whoa, you OK?” Miori asked.

    “Yeah, yeah,” Cleinmark answered.

    “In fact, I felt fine,” Cleinmark writes. “I was more upset with myself than anything. Bracing my arms on the stones surrounding me, I moved to get oriented and comfortable, which is when I saw that my tibia and fibula were protruding a few inches from my lower leg. Alessio must have seen this at about the same time because he started shouting, ‘No, No, No!’”

    According to Cleinmark, Miori jumped up and started pacing the small ledge, grabbing his hair and cursing in Italian. 

    Miori eventually calmed down and prussiked the fixed line. Once on top, he and local climbers organized a rescue. After four and a half hours on the small ledge, Cleinmark was placed in a litter and winched to the top. He had sustained a compound fracture of his right tibia and fibula, and an avulsion fracture of his left distal tibia. Presently, he’s able to bear weight with his left foot but cannot bear weight on his right foot for six weeks post surgery. He hopes to be climbing again within one year. 


    [ ANALYSIS ] 

    Point Perpendicular offers a unique and adventurous scenario with its rappel approach and mixed protection. Added to these challenges is the fact that bolts in Australia often lack hangers making them more difficult to see. Instead, climbers carry “bolt plates,” removable hangers to fit over the bolt or “carrot.” Unknown to Cleinmark or Miori, Jaws of Death has two carrots located at the base of the dihedral where the rock quality improves. The team missed this semi-hanging belay and rappelled to the ledge, forcing the leader to negotiate 30 feet of loose, unprotected rock.

    [ PREVENTION ] 

    This accident would have been prevented if the team had found and used the correct belay station. 

    Before launching up a multi-pitch route or down a sea cliff, read guidebooks and talk to locals. Ask about protection and anchors. Sometimes, of course, there are no guidebooks or locals and you have to rely on what you can see. When approaching from the top, preview the climb while on rappel. Note any sections that look difficult or dangerous. 

    Finally, listen to your gut. Cleinmark and Miori did everything right after the accident, but it might have been prevented had Cleinmark listened to the internal alarm bells that went off at the sight of the choss and, instead of forging on, hanging back until he found the correct established anchor.




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