• 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
  • You Must Have a Cold, Sweetie
  • Free-Soloist Falls to Death in Flatirons
  • Climber Falls 200 Feet on the Nose
  • Danger Zones: The Nose - Accidents On El Cap's Most Popular Route
  • Rappelling Accident Leaves Climber Shattered
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Gunks Climber Raps Off End of Rope
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Inattentive Spot Leads to Broken Arm
  • Climbing Accidents: My Helmet Saved My Life - Short Story Series
  • Rock Climbing Accident: Man Survives Fifty-Foot Ground Fall
  • Bolt Breaks, Climber Falls to Death
  • 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
  • Solo Ice 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
  • Fifty-Footer Rips Three Screws


    On November 21, two climbers from Canmore, Alberta, made the long approach to Planter’s Valley, a canyon on the south side of Devil’s Gap in Canada’s Ghost River Wilderness Area. They started up the first pitch of the 330-foot Weathering Heights (WI 4). The leader, Simon, encountered extremely brittle ice and very cold conditions—minus-14 degrees—but managed to climb 100 feet and establish a belay consisting of a 20-cm and a 16-cm screw clipped to a self-equalizing sling. After belaying his partner to the screw station, Simon climbed six feet higher, placed a 16-cm screw and clipped it with a load-limiting draw, then placed a second 16-cm screw roughly six feet above that.

    He described what happened then in a post on gravsports-ice.com: “After placing the second screw, I was hit with an overwhelming, nauseating case of the barfies and took on the screw. I sat there for at least three to four minutes, warming my hands up, and chatting with my belayer. I was also assessing the ice for a possible Abalakov because the conditions were so cold that it was time to retreat. Next thing I knew, I was falling backwards through the air.” Both screws pulled, then the 16-cm belay screw also ripped. Simon stopped about 30 feet below the belay. “We were climbing on two 8-mm ropes, and one rope was shredded down to the core, three core strands of six cut.” The other rope was undamaged.

    Despite a long fall by the leader that pulled out all the screws but one, both men escaped with minor injuries. Simon gashed his elbow and required stitches. It was later surmised that the rope was cut during the fall by a sharp crampon point.

    “We were very lucky,” Simon wrote. “{I'm} going to sacrifice a goat to the climbing gods soon.”


    Seven days later, Calgary climbers Grant and Ryan hiked into Weathering Heights to climb the route, retrieve gear and provide photos and analysis of the accident. Once again the ice was brittle. The temperature hovered around minus-10 degrees. In his subsequent post to gravsports-ice.com Grant described “a shell over either older ice or chandelier, which seemed to be widespread.” He had trouble getting good screws at the belay and decided to incorporate V-threads, but had a hard time finding good ice for them. After he brought up Ryan, the two bailed and posted up the photos.
    Will Gadd, the administrator of the gravsports forum, looked at the pictures and commented: “That ice is classic ‘white’ ice that forms fast when the temperature really drops. This is the sort of ice that I’ve bounce-tested screws out of while on a rap. Usually when screws go in, the cores fall apart in almost rice-like bits rather than come out as ice. Even if the placements weren’t in shell ice, which it looks like they were, this ice is really, really weak, almost ‘snow ice’ but still quite hard to the touch.”


    Ice morphs and changes constantly. Dig and clear until you find solid, uniform base ice. Most people don't clear enough ice. As Gadd wrote toward the end of the Weathering Heights thread: “If a screw isn’t in good, well-supported ice, tip to hanger, then it’s not a good screw.”

    Other tips for placing good screws:

    Place screws waist high so you don't have to reach up and get pumped.

    If you feel like you need a screw, place one. Don't keep running it out!

    Note any sudden change in resistance as the screw goes in. A placement that gets noticeably easier to twist has hit an air pocket or bad ice. Consider it suspect.

    Check the ice core. Is it solid?

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